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Keywords:

  • postoperative care;
  • practice nursing;
  • psychology;
  • wound care

Aims and objectives

To understand the psychological aspects in patients undergoing post-operative wound care and to gain insights for improving nursing practice.

Background

Very few studies have examined education on or practice of wound care with a view towards the patient's psychology.

Design

Descriptive exploratory qualitative study.

Methods

Four patients who had undergone open surgery of the upper gastrointestinal tract were interviewed using a semi-structured format to gain an understanding of their feelings and opinions with regard to wound care. Interview transcripts were analysed using an inductive coding approach.

Results

Fifteen categories of responses were finally identified from the data. Patients wanted nursing staff to observe their wound more often so that patients could recognise improvement, to have better knowledge of the patient's disease and condition, to explain the patient's situation more completely and to appropriately answer questions. Patients also said that they felt more comfortable in posing questions or concerns regarding their condition to nursing staff than to their surgeons and did so while the wounds were being taken care of by nurses.

Conclusions

These findings suggested the importance of nursing staff to fully understand and to be ready to share feelings regarding a patient's postoperative condition and to have skills in properly explaining the importance of each procedure or steps in treatments that a patient must undergo. The present study also indicates that it is imperative for nursing staff to learn methods to build relationships with patients so that they can express their feelings of fear or anxiety freely to nurses.

Relevance to clinical practice

It is not possible to develop nursing practice without understanding psychological aspects of patients undergoing postoperative wound care.