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The aim of this study was to explore the type of relationship and the process of developing these relationships between nurses and patients in palliative care units in Japan. The special contribution that culture makes was examined to better understand the intensity of nurses’ grief after the death of their patient.
Thirteen Japanese registered nurses currently practicing in palliative care units were interviewed between July 2006 to June 2009. Theoretical sampling was utilised and the data were analysed using grounded theory methodology. Constant comparison was undertaken during coding processes until data saturation was achieved.
Significant cultural influences emerged both in the type of relationship nurses formed with patients and in the way they developed relationships. The type of relationship was termed ‘human-to-human’, meaning truly interpersonal. The cultural values of ‘Uchi (inside) and Soto (outside)’ have particular implications for the relationship. Four actions Being open, Trying to understand, Devoting time and energy, and Applying a primary nurse role, were identified as strategies for nurses to develop such relationships. The quality of this deeply committed encounter with patients caused nurses to grieve following patients’ death.
Significance of results:
Culture is a major influence upon the reasons, complexities, and impact that lie behind nurses’ behaviours. Attention is needed to support nurses to sustain a fundamental caring quality in their relationships with patients.
This article is a literature report on grief issues for health care professionals, undertaken to identify Japanese nurses' grief experience when they work in palliative care units. Health care professionals' grief experience and its impact have not been well understood or identified as a significant issue in Japan.
Published articles relating to this study were searched using electronic catalogues such as CINAHL and PsycINFO, books, and research publications. Key words used for the search were “grief,” “palliative care,” “nurse,” “staff support,” and “Japan.” Both English and Japanese were used for the literature search in order to collect information regarding nurses' grief and support systems in Japan and elsewhere. The literature search covered the period 1990–2006 inclusive.
This article explores these issues in the literature as preparation for establishing a study that will particularly look at the influence of nurses' grief on the quality of care provided.
Significance of results:
Consideration of Japanese culture as it relates to death and dying and to nursing culture is a significant part of this work.
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