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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A phenomenological study of nurses' experiences caring for patients with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Pickthall, Linda E.


This study describes hospital nurses' experiences caring for patients with AIDS. A modified version of Speigelberg's phenomenological approach was used which explored the nurses' experiences from their perspective. A total of eight nurses who had cared for patients with AIDS were interviewed. The findings indicated that caring for these patients is stressful. The researcher identified sources of stress as both internal and external. Internal stressors included: (1) fear of contracting AIDS; (2) homophobia; and (3) caring for dying AIDS patients. The two external stressors were patient variables and societal views. Lack of perceived emotional support from nursing administration further increased the stress. These nurses believed this form of support was essential. In order to cope with these experiences, the nurses utilized their usual coping strategies. Common ones were being physically active, relaxing, and talking with others. Different coping strategies were used to deal with the specific stressors. These were identified by the researcher as: (1) rationalization; (2) knowledge-seeking; (3) withdrawal; and (4) involvement. This study's findings emphasize the need for support for all nurses caring for patients with AIDS. Implications for nursing education, practice, and research were identified.

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