Aims. The aims of this paper are to review a theoretical model useful for developing nursing knowledge related to nurse–patient interaction, review the literature on nurse–patient interaction, and discuss areas for further research.
Theoretical model. Goffman's theory of face work.
Results. Nurse–patient interaction is a central element of clinical nursing practice. This paper shows how Goffman's model can be used as a theoretical framework for understanding nurse–patient communication.
Relevance to clinical practice. Issues such as power, the social and cultural context, and interpersonal competence are shown to be important in the quality of nurse–patient interactions and nurses need to take cognizance of these factors in their interactions with patients.