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Caring with difficulty: Brazilian nurses' experiences of gynaecological surgery care


  • Octavio Muniz Da Costa Vargens RN Midwife PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Assistant Professor, Faculty of Nursing, Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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  • Carina M Berterö RN RNT BSc MScN PhD

    1. Associate Professor, Division of Nursing Science, Department of Medicine and Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
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Octavio Vargens, Rua Constante Ramos 136/503, Copacabana, CEP 22051-010, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. Email:


da Costa Vargens OM, Berterö CM. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2010; 16: 159–165
Caring with difficulty: Brazilian nurses' experiences of gynaecological surgery care

This study was made by a qualitative approach based on symbolic interactionism and grounded theory. The subject was defined as what mutilation means for nurses who take care of women submitted to gynaecological surgery. The aim was to identify the interaction relationship of nurses as female with the phenomenon of mutilation in gynaecological surgeries and how it affects their relationship with female patients in this situation. Data were obtained by interviews with 16 nurses who work in gynaecology units. The findings present two core categories: speaking as a professional and speaking as female. When they spoke as professional nurses they defined mutilation technically. As females they verbalized their conflict and difficulty in working with mutilation and redefined it as being the loss of something very important for themselves. We conclude that female nurses when confronting female surgery distances themselves behind the professional nurse and performs nursing care as a daily routine. It means that these nurses live a personal conflict that influences directly on how they supply care. They care for but do not care about, the ethos of biomedicine leads carers on to a technical path from which it is difficult to get off.