Aims: To explore the concepts of empathy and stress in nurses working in haemodialysis units in France and their possible interactions.
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Background: Nurses’ work in haemodialysis is rather complex. It requires technical expertise, because of the peculiarity of the treatment, and emotional skills, to care for patients throughout a long-lasting therapy. Empathy is considered as a key in the concept of caring, which allows nurses to give appropriate answers to their patients’ needs. In addition, nurses’ work environment can generate stress.
Design: A qualitative descriptive design.
Method: Nurses (N = 23) working in haemodialysis units were interviewed in three different sites in 2014.
Results: The analysis of nurses’ speech emphasized a predominance of the cognitive attributes of empathy: understanding, communication, adjusted response (43%), and a special feature of the relationship due to the chronicity of the care (23%). The main stressors highlighted were time management (14%), emergencies (12%) and technical nature of the task (8%). Nurses’ experience in haemodialysis seemed to be a modulating factor regarding empathy and stress. The main stressors highlighted were time management (14%), emergencies (12%) and technical nature of the task (8%). Nurses’ experience in haemodialysis seemed to be a modulating factor regarding empathy and stress.
Conclusion: The results showed the special features of nurses’ work in haemodialysis and the need for further studies to investigate these concepts. The influence of stress on empathy needs to be explored more precisely, especially regarding nurses’ experience and its impact on patients.
Vioulac, C., Aubree, C., Massy, Z.A. and Untas, A. (2016) Empathy and stress in nurses working in haemodialysis: a qualitative study. Journal of Advanced Nursing. January 13th. [epub ahead of print].
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