Barthow C. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1997; 3: 206–210
Negotiating realistic and mutually sustaining nurse–patient relationships in palliative care
This paper uses a literature review to question the proposition that nurses will be permitted to care for the psychosocial and spiritual needs of patients in the manner that is frequently presented as the nurses role. Second, it will explore qualities in nurse-patient relationships that can be not only helpful to those who are cared for but also can be a mode of sustenance to the nurse. Issues explored are the social construction of the nurse–patient relationship, reality checking, balancing emotional and cognitive functions in nursing, focus of nursing commitment, power issues, reciprocity and boundaries. Palliative care nursing will be referred to in relation to these themes as it is an area of nursing which highlights the increasing focus on psychosocial care. For this reason questions of what is realistic and sustainable for the nurse are of prime importance.