Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Nurses' Experiences of the Hospitalisation of Their Own Children for Acute Illnesses

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Nurses' Experiences of the Hospitalisation of Their Own Children for Acute Illnesses

Article excerpt

Introduction

Parents are increasingly encouraged to stay with their hospitalised child and participate as desired in their care (Franck, Oulton, & Bruce, 2012; Macdonald, Liben, Carnevale, & Cohen, 2012; Power & Franck, 2008). The benefits of such participation for parents include increased information sharing and inclusion in care (Cypress, 2012). However, the experience of having a child in hospital can also be harmful to parents' emotional and psychological well-being (Franck et al., 2015; Muscara et al., 2015). This impact may be so traumatic that it leads to acute stress reactions (Bakker, Van Loey, Van der Heijden, & Van Son, 2012) and clinically significant depressive and anxiety symptoms (Wray, Lee, Dearmun, & Franck, 2011). There are some situations where parents have experienced these symptoms for more than one month following their children's planned or unplanned admission (Bronner, Peek, Knoester, Bos, & Grootenhuis, 2010; Franich-Ray et al., 2013; Wray et al., 2011).

Parents' experiences of a child's hospitalisation include strong emotional reactions such as powerlessness, confusion and fear for their child's well-being (Ames, Rennick, & Baillargeon, 2011; Colville et al., 2009; Latour et al., 2011; Uhl, Fisher, Docherty, & Brandon, 2013). When parents hand over responsibility for their children's care to healthcare professionals (HCPs), they are often displaced into the role of 'visitor' (Macdonald et al., 2012) and struggle to regain control of the situation by seeking to understand the child's illness and treatment (Ames et al., 2011; Graham, Pemstein, & Curley, 2009; Higham & Davies, 2013). To do this, parents attempt to build partnerships with HCPs involved in the care of their child which, if successful, helps parents to understand the child's care and decreases the emotional impact of the hospitalisation (Ames et al., 2011; Uhl et al., 2013).

One group of parents who may face additional stressors and challenges during their child's hospitalisation are parents who are also nurses (Nurse-Parents). When their child is hospitalised, Nurse-Parents' professional knowledge and expertise may complicate an already emotionally and psychologically demanding experience. The existing literature suggests that the experience of being both a nurse and a recipient of health care (as a family member or patient) may lead to a number of personal and professional difficulties including the blurring of professional boundaries and altered relationships with HCPs (Cicchelli & McLeod, 2012; Duke & Connor, 2008; Giles & Hall, 2014; Giles & Williamson, 2015; Mills & Aubeeluck, 2006; Ward-Griffin, 2004). However, while there is some evidence relating to the experience of the nurse when an adult family member is hospitalised (Nurse-Family Members) (Cicchelli & McLeod, 2012; Duke & Connor, 2008; Giles & Hall, 2014; Giles & Williamson, 2015; Mills & Aubeeluck, 2006; Salmond, 2011; Ward-Griffin, 2004), no studies could be found regarding the unique experience of Nurse-Parents when their child is hospitalised. The aim of this study therefore was to explore the experiences of Nurse-Parents to better understand their specific challenges and needs.

Methods

This study used an exploratory, qualitative multiple case-study design (Yin, 2009). Case-study method has been described as a pragmatic approach that investigates phenomenon in depth and within its unique, real-life social context (Yin, 2009). This approach can be particularly useful when the boundaries between the phenomenon of interest and its social context are blurred (Yin, 2009). A case-study approach was considered appropriate for this study because human experiences are closely linked to the social context in which they occur (Munhall, 2012). Thus, the case-study approach allowed for an initial insight into both Nurse-Parents' experiences and their respective social contexts. …

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