Capacity for care: meta-ethnography of acute care nurses' experiences of the nurse-patient relationship
Article first published online: 19 NOV 2012
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume 69, Issue 4, pages 760–772, April 2013
How to Cite
2013) Capacity for care: meta-ethnography of acute care nurses' experiences of the nurse-patient relationship. Journal of Advanced Nursing 69(4), 760–772. doi: 10.1111/jan.12050, , , , , , & (
- Issue published online: 14 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 19 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 13 OCT 2012
- Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust
- Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust
- literature review;
- professional-patient relations;
- qualitative research;
- systematic review
To synthesize evidence and knowledge from published research about nurses' experiences of nurse-patient relationships with adult patients in general, acute inpatient hospital settings.
While primary research on nurses' experiences has been reported, it has not been previously synthesized.
Published literature from Australia, Europe, and North America, written in English between January 1999–October 2009 was identified from databases: CINAHL, Medline, British Nursing Index and PsycINFO.
Qualitative studies describing nurses' experiences of the nurse-patient relationship in acute hospital settings were reviewed and synthesized using the meta-ethnographic method.
Sixteen primary studies (18 papers) were appraised as high quality and met the inclusion criteria. The findings show that while nurses aspire to develop therapeutic relationships with patients, the organizational setting at a unit level is strongly associated with nurses' capacity to build and sustain these relationships. The organizational conditions of critical care settings appear best suited to forming therapeutic relationships, while nurses working on general wards are more likely to report moral distress resulting from delivering unsatisfactory care. General ward nurses can then withdraw from attempting to emotionally engage with patients.
The findings of this meta-ethnography draw together the evidence from several qualitative studies and articulate how the organizational setting at a unit level can strongly influence nurses' capacity to build and sustain therapeutic relationships with patients. Service improvements need to focus on how to optimize the organizational conditions that support nurses in their relational work with patients.