Coping experiences of partners of professional nurses venting traumatic information
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Professional nurses who are employed in trauma units face many stressors in their work place. Yet they all cope with the stress in different ways. One of the methods that professional nurses use is to vent traumatic information to their partners. By venting to their partners, they rely on their partners for support. However, the researcher could find no current studies on how these partners cope with the traumatic information being vented to them. The aim of this study is to explore and describe the coping experiences of partners of professional nurses venting traumatic information to them, with the goal of making recommendations on how to strengthen the partners’ resilience. A qualitative design with an interpretive descriptive approach was used to explore, interpret and describe the coping experiences of the partners. Purposive sampling was used to select partners (N=14; n=10) to partake in the study. The researcher collected data by means of semi-structured interviews. Tesch’s eight steps of open coding were used to code each transcription and to analyse the data. An independent and experienced co-coder analysed the data using a protocol that the researcher provided; consensus was reached with regard to the themes and sub-themes. The following four main themes emerged from the data: 1) How partners experience the traumatic information they hear from the professional nurses; 2) The partners’ personal coping skills and strategies; 3) Reciprocal communication and relationship support between the partners and the professional nurses; and 4) Partners need resilience in dealing with the professional nurses’ occupation. The researcher found that partners cope in many different ways with traumatic information. In addition, partners feel a great need to develop their resilience due to the supportive role they need to fulfil in their relationships with the professional nurses. The partners categorically agreed that the nursing profession is filled with hardship and trauma. The professional nurses’ lack of support in the workplace was the main reason for the partners wanting to become more resilient. This state of affairs leaves the partners as the professional nurses’ primary support structure. The researcher formulated recommendations to strengthen the coping skills of other partners so that, in the long-term, partners’ resilience could also be strengthened. Some of these recommendations are listed below. Hospitals could conduct workshops for family members every four months to discuss different topics such as effective coping, communication skills and setting boundaries, among others. Discuss the findings of this study in a workshop to assists others in building resilience and in coping better. For the nursing practice: Develop a guideline or protocol to be followed after a professional nurse has been exposed to a traumatic event. Organise monthly “emotional check-in sessions” with the sister who is in charge to discuss any ongoing problems and, if necessary, to refer a nurse to a psychologist or counsellor to facilitate emotional problems. The researcher hopes that implementing these recommendations, as well as conducting further research on the topic, will not only assist the partners and families of professional nurses, but also result in improved support for professional nurses.
- ETD@PUK