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The provision of emotional support to the families of traumatic brain injury patients: perspectives of finnish nurses



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Corrigendum Volume 23, Issue 1-2, 298, Article first published online: 9 December 2013

Correspondence: Kirsi Coco, Doctoral Student, Department of Nursing Science, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio Campus, PO Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland. Telephone: +358 40 821 5057.



Aims and objectives

To examine nursing staff's perceptions about how often they provide interventions of emotional support and the level of competence needed on neurosurgical wards to support traumatic brain injury patients' family members.


Traumatic brain injury in one individual affects the health of their whole family. Studying the emotional support provided by nursing staff is important because such support is crucial for the family members of a traumatic brain injury patient during the acute phase of treatment. Members of the nursing staff provide emotional support to family members by consoling them; this alleviates insecurity, anxiety, hopelessness and depression.


A structured self-reported questionnaire presented to 172 nurses working on neurosurgical wards. The response rate was 67% (= 115).


Descriptive statistics were used to determine how often nurses provided emotional support to the traumatic brain injury patients family members and one-way anova to examine the relationships between the background variables and the respondents' evaluations of how often they gave emotional support to brain injury patients' family members.


Thirty-seven percentage of nurses stated that they always took account of family members' individuality and 65% that they were always respectful. All registered nurses and staff members with long work experience (21 years or more) on a neurosurgical ward reported that they took family members' feelings of anger and guilt into consideration slightly more often than other nursing staff did. Most nurses considered these skills to represent basic competencies.


Further service training on dealing with difficult emotions of traumatic brain injury patients' family members could help nurses to face these situations. Both education and work experience affected the frequency at which nursing staff provided emotional support to traumatic brain injury patients' family members.

Relevance to clinical practice

The results are relevant for example when planning specialised studies or in-service training for neuro-nurses, as well as when selecting the subjects to be addressed during the orientation of a new staff member. In addition, the results should help nursing staff to understand their role in the emotional support of family members.