Emergency nurses' experiences of caring for survivors of intimate partner violence
Article first published online: 17 FEB 2013
© 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume 69, Issue 10, pages 2242–2252, October 2013
How to Cite
2013) Emergency nurses' experiences of caring for survivors of intimate partner violence. Journal of Advanced Nursing 69(10), 2242–2252. doi: 10.1111/jan 12099, & (
- Issue published online: 13 SEP 2013
- Article first published online: 17 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 12 JAN 2013
- Community-Oriented Nursing Education for Women and Child Health Programme
- University of Pretoria
- University of Limpopo
- compassion fatigue;
- descriptive phenomenology;
- emergency nursing;
- intimate partner violence;
- secondary traumatic stress
To report a study of emergency nurses' experiences of caring for survivors of intimate partner violence.
Emergency nurses have the opportunity to intervene during the period following exposure to intimate partner violence when survivors are most receptive for interventions. The confrontation with the trauma of intimate partner violence can, however, affect emergency nurses' ability to engage empathetically with survivors, which is fundamental to all interventions.
The research was guided by the philosophical foundations of phenomenology as founded by Husserl.
A descriptive phenomenological inquiry grounded in Husserlian philosophy was used. The phenomenological reductions were applied throughout data collection and analysis. During 2010, concrete descriptions were obtained from interviewing 11 nurses working in emergency units of two public hospitals in an urban setting in South Africa. To arrive at a description of the essence, the data were analysed by searching for the meaning given to the experience of caring for survivors of intimate partner violence.
Emergency nurses in South Africa are often witnesses of the emotional and physical effects of intimate partner violence. Exposure to the vulnerability and suffering of survivors elicits sympathy and emotional distress. Emergency nurses are left with the emotional impact and disruptive and recurrent memories.
Exploring the tacit internal experiences related to caring for survivors of intimate partner violence revealed emergency nurses' vulnerability to the effects of secondary traumatic stress. The findings generated an opportunity to develop guidelines through which to support and empower emergency nurses.