UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The experience of witnessing patients' trauma and suffering for acute care nurses Walsh, Mary


Research has shown there are many stresses that nurses endure as a result of their work and workplace environment. Burnout and stress are common issues that have been proven to be quite prevalent in the nursing world. More recently, compassion fatigue is starting to be studied as part of the struggles that many nurses face. This study is an initial attempt to describe the experience of witnessing patients’ trauma and suffering for acute care nurses to see if this could also be an aspect of the stress. Phenomenological reduction of the data yielded several themes: A witnessing of a traumatic event and/or prolonged witnessing of suffering; a group of common effects as a result of the witnessing, distancing and guilt secondary to the effects; change in self; and finally what nurses do to cope and what they feel would help aid further coping. Recommendations for resources and further research are made.

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