Nurses are expected to care for grieving women and families suffering from perinatal loss. However, these losses can also significantly impact upon the emotional state of nurses. Failure to adjust may endanger the affected nurse's health and render him or her unable or unwilling to provide continuous quality care. There has been little prior research addressing the effect of patient perinatal loss on nurses tasked with providing nursing care. This paper focuses on internal perceptions and external stresses to explore the impact of this traumatic experience on nurses and related coping strategies. We found that nurses experience a grieving process similar to those directly suffering from perinatal loss. Nurses feel sadness, incompetence, and helplessness but dare not cry in order to protect their professional image. They may also worry about the potential legal risks of verbalizing or otherwise expressing their feelings. Strategies frequently used to adjust to the emotional strain include limiting his or her commitment to the patient, seeking emotional escape, and talking to colleagues. Therefore, it is important to develop institute- or hospital-based emotional support networks and training programs and evidence-based nursing care standards for this important issue. This paper also suggests future policies, nursing strategies and further research directions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many nurses grieve when patients die; however, nurses’ grief is not often acknowledged or discussed. Also, little attention is given to preparing nurses for this experience in schools of nursing and in orientations to health care organizations. The purpose of this research was to explore obstetrical and neonatal nurses’ experiences of grieving when caring for families who experience loss after perinatal death. A visual arts-informed research method through the medium of digital video was used, informed by human science nursing, grief concepts, and interpretive phenomenology. Five obstetrical nurses and one neonatal intensive care nurse who cared for bereaved families voluntarily participated in this study. Nurses shared their experiences of grieving during in-depth interviews that were professionally audio- and videotaped. Data were analyzed using an iterative process of analysis-synthesis to identify themes and patterns that were then used to guide the editing of the documentary. Thematic patterns identified throughout the data were growth and transformation amid the anguish of grief, professional and personal impact, and giving–receiving meaningful help. The thematic pattern of giving–receiving meaningful help was made up of three thematic threads: support from colleagues; providing authentic, compassionate, quality care; and education and mentorship. Nurses’ grief is significant. Nurses who grieve require acknowledgment, support, and education. Supporting staff through their grief may ultimately have a positive impact on quality of work life and home life for nurses and quality of care for bereaved families.
SAGE Open 04/2013; 3(2). DOI:10.1177/2158244013486116
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