• assisted reproductive technology;
  • experiences;
  • infertility;
  • interpretive description;
  • interviews;
  • nursing;
  • roles


Title. Holding together: caring for clients undergoing assisted reproductive technologies

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to investigate the roles and experiences of nurses caring for clients undergoing assisted reproductive technologies.

Background.  Little has been written on nurses’ experiences of assisted reproductive technologies. Such interventions are emotionally fraught for clients, and working in areas of high emotional intensity can also be emotionally difficult for staff. Nurses are in a potentially unique position in the assisted reproductive technology environment in that, unlike other professionals who move in and out during the treatment cycle, they maintain a more constant contact with the client.

Method.  A qualitative approach was taken and a convenience sample of 15 nurses from New Zealand was interviewed in 2005. Data were analysed using interpretive description.

Findings.  The overarching theme identified was that of the potential role of the nurse to ‘hold together’ multiple components of the assisted reproductive technology process: holding together clients’ emotional and physical experiences of assisted reproductive technologies; holding together the roles of different specialist team members; and holding together personal own emotions. It encompasses practices such as information-giving, interpreting, supporting and advocating.

Conclusion.  Assisted reproductive technologies nurses require recognition of their role and how it may positively contribute to clients’ experiences, as well as adequate preparation and ongoing support. Nurses need to be educated in both the emotional and medical aspects involved in caring for clients being treated with these technologies.