Purpose: To describe the experiences of nurses who provide care for survivors of sexual violence (SV) on a number of different types of hospital units.
Data sources: Semi-structured interviews of 23 unit managers and 12 advanced practice nurses from four tertiary care hospitals were audiotaped and transcribed. Participants were asked to describe how they screen for SV and how they provide care for survivors. A team approach was used to conduct a thematic analysis of the data.
Conclusions: The bridge metaphor was chosen as the central theme of the data because it captures three key aspects of the participants’ experiences: an initial sense of disconnection from patients who are survivors of SV (being separated on opposite shores), the need to proceed cautiously (tentatively stepping onto the bridge), and the experience of forming a meaningful connection that serves as the context of care (meeting on the bridge and crossing it together).
Implications for practice: This research suggests that nurses provide quality care for survivors of SV by intuitively responding to survivors’ cues of distress, cautiously broaching the topic of violence, and finding ways to ease the healthcare encounter.