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J Pediatr Oncol Nurs. 1993 Jan;10(1):19-25.

The phenomenon of hand holding as a coping strategy in adolescents experiencing treatment-related pain.

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Department of Family Health Care Nursing, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0606.


The purpose of this study was to understand the phenomenon of hand holding as a coping strategy used by adolescents to deal with treatment-related pain. The convenience sample consisted of 20 adolescents whose ages were 11 to 19 years: 10 had cancer and 10 had renal disease (this served as the comparison group). Using a descriptive design, a semistructured interview was conducted with each adolescent. To supplement and support interview data, structured observations were conducted as adolescents underwent painful treatments (eg, blood draws, shunt placement, peripheral chemotherapy, lumbar punctures, and bone marrow aspirations). Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and qualitative analytic techniques similar to those delineated by Strauss and Corbin. The results of this study indicated that subjects in both the cancer and the renal disease group perceived hand holding to be a very effective coping strategy in ameliorating treatment-related pain. Overwhelmingly the patients preferred to hold their mother's hand. When the mother was unavailable, they preferred to hold a specific nurse's hand. Hand holding functioned to reduce tension associated with impending treatments, as a source of distraction, and as a source of security. Accordingly, adolescents' subjective experience of treatment-related pain was reduced when they felt more secure, less tense, and were distracted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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