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J Adv Nurs. 1993 Sep;18(9):1369-76.

The role of the nurse providing therapeutic care for the suicidal patient.

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Acute Admission Ward, Purdysburn Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland.


In this study, nurses perceived that the implementation of special supervision is the most effective preventive method in the nursing care of suicidal patients, but they also expressed the view that special supervision is non-therapeutic. The results of these findings show that it is possible to provide nursing care in the prevention of further harm to the patient but that nurses may not necessarily be proficient in demonstrating the interpersonal caring skills essential for the development of a therapeutic relationship and hence patient recovery. This paper demonstrates there is now: (a) a need for special supervision as a preventive method when caring for the suicidal patient; (b) a need for a planned therapeutic programme of care during special supervision; (c) a need for the development of essential interpersonal and counselling skills and dimensions for effective therapeutic intervention and empathic nursing care; (d) a need to bridge the gulf between theory and practice by giving nurses the opportunity to practise those skills in the clinical setting under the supervision of an expert clinician; (e) a need for the patient to experience that nurses do care, i.e. experience empathy, during the complete therapeutic programme including the period of special supervision; and (f) a need for further research regarding the patient's perception of nursing care experienced following a failed suicidal attempt.

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