Strategies used by burns nurses to cope with the infliction of pain on patients

Authors

  • Sue Nagy PhD

    1. Professor of Paediatric Nursing, Faculty of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Western Sydney Nepean and The Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Sydney, Australia
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S Nagy, Nursing Academic Unit, The Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, P.O. Box 3515 Parramatta. NSW 2124, Australia.

Abstract

Strategies used by burns nurses to cope with the infliction of pain on patients

The infliction of pain on patients is part of the daily routine for many nurses, particularly those who work in burns units, but there has been little help available for nurses to develop useful ways of coping with such circumstances. Few researchers have considered how the ways that nurses manage their feelings about pain may provide insights into the reasons why available pain control methods have not been fully practiced. The aim of this study was to identify the range of coping strategies used by nurses when conducting painful procedures. Nurses working in five burns units were interviewed about their feelings when it was necessary for them to inflict pain on patients in the course of giving patient care. Content analysis was used to identify the kinds of coping strategies used by nurses to manage their feelings about such situations. Fourteen kinds of strategy were identified and were then grouped into four categories: (i) distancing oneself from the patient’s pain; (ii) engaging with the patient’s pain; (iii) seeking social support and (iv) reconstructing the nurse’s core role. The use of each of these categories of coping have implications for both the management of patient’s pain and the nurse’s emotional well-being. While distancing oneself from the patient’s pain was the most prevalent way for nurses to cope with their feelings about causing pain to patients, all types of coping strategies had their advantages. It is possible that combinations of various strategies may be the most effective way for nurses to deal with their patients’ pain.

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