Flynn, Sandra D. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2013-05)
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn life around,” (Leo F Buscaglia 1924-1998). Caring is a universal phenomenon (Leininger, 1988a, 1991) that influences the way we think, feel and act and is the focus of debate worldwide. Studied since the days of Florence Nightingale and reflected in the literature are numerous theoretical opinions in the search for a comprehensive understanding of caring in the health experience of human beings (Newman et al., 1991). This ethnographic thesis has a caring science perspective (caring in orthopaedics) with the aim of acquiring a greater understanding of perceptions of caring in an orthopaedic clinical setting from both patient and health care professional perspectives. There is a wealth of literature relating to caring which attempts to define and interpret its meaning from several theoretical perspectives. In respect of institutional or professional caring, nursing has historically been synonymous with the notion of care and caring, modest research has been attributed to caring amongst other health care professionals in the wider context. The study used a sequential exploratory mixed methods design and was underpinned by Watson’s Theory of Transpersonal Care in order to discover and illuminate the essential caring behaviours valued by both care givers and care recipients. A total of 30 patients and 53 health care professionals consisting of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists participated in the study through a three stage approach consisting of questionnaires, observation and semi-structured interviews. The findings revealed both similarities and differences between patients and health care professionals relating to the importance of positive caring behaviours revealed during caring interactions. The questionnaires disclosed that patients statistically rated caring behaviours demonstrated by health care professionals lower than the professionals rated themselves. The data analysis from the participant observation and semi-structured interviews established that although all of the caring caratives according to Watson’s Theory of Care were evident in caring interactions they varied as to the number of times they were exhibited by the respected health care professional groups. Overall patient perception of caring focused upon behaviours related to the caring carative ‘assurance of human presence’ whilst health care professionals considered caring behaviours relating to the caring carative ‘respectful deference’ as the most important. This thesis highlights the need of the patient to feel ‘cared for’ and ‘cared about’ and in today’s modern health care system caring should not be monopolised by one profession but instead the caring concept embraced and the caring dais shared by other professions.
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