• children;
  • parent–nurse interactions;
  • collaboration;
  • nursing role;
  • hospital care

Background. An essential component of quality nursing care is nurses’ ability to work with parents in the hospital care of their children. However, changes in the health care environment have presented nurses with many new challenges, including meeting family-centred care expectations.

Aim of the paper. To report a research study examining the experiences of parents who interacted with nurses in a hospital setting regarding the care of their children.

Methods. A qualitative approach was employed for this study. In-depth audiotaped interviews were conducted with eight parents representing seven families. Data collection was completed over a 7-month period in 2001.

Findings. Parents characterized their experiences with nurses caring for their children as interactions, and identified the elements of establishing rapport and sharing children's care as key to a positive perception of the interactions. These elements were influenced by parental expectations of nurses. Changes in nurses’ approach were reported by parents as the children's conditions changed.

Conclusion. Nurses were able to work with families in the hospital care of their children in ways that parents perceived as positive. However, in parents’ views, their interactions with nurses did not constitute collaborative relationships. A deeper understanding of these interactions may provoke new thinking about how to promote an agency's philosophy, and how nurses enact this philosophy in practice.