Immunizing Children Who Fear and Resist Needles: Is It a Problem for Nurses?

Authors

  • Mary Ives RN, MHS,

    1. Mary Ives, RN, MHS, is a Public Health Nurse, Chilliwack Health Unit, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada; and Sherri Melrose, RN, PhD, is an Assistant Professor, Centre for Nursing and Health Studies, Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, Canada.
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  • Sherri Melrose RN, PhD

    1. Mary Ives, RN, MHS, is a Public Health Nurse, Chilliwack Health Unit, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada; and Sherri Melrose, RN, PhD, is an Assistant Professor, Centre for Nursing and Health Studies, Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, Canada.
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Mary.Ives@fraserhealth.ca, with a copy to the Editor: nursingforum@gmail.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND.  Despite increasing evidence that immunization procedures can be stressful for children, little is known about what the experience of immunizing frightened and needle-resistant children can be like for nurses.

METHOD.  This article presents findings from a qualitative research project designed to explore public health nurses' feelings toward immunizing needle-resistant children. A constructivist theoretical perspective and an action research approach framed the study. Data sources included two survey questions and audio-recorded transcribed data from three focus groups. Participants included 35 public health nurses from five different health units in one Canadian province. The data were analyzed for themes and were confirmed with participants through ongoing member checking.

RESULTS.  The following four overarching themes were identified and are used to explain and describe significant features of the immunization experience that were stressful and problematic for nurses: (a) nurses experience stress when immunizing children who fear and resist needle injection; (b) the strength of child resistance and some adult behavior creates an ethical dilemma for nurses; (c) some adult responses make immunizing difficult and unsafe; and (d) resources to help nurses cope with these situations are inconsistent.

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