Health SA Gesondheid (Online)
On-line version ISSN 2071-9736
Print version ISSN 1025-9848
VAN DEN HEEVER, Anna E.; POGGENPOEL, Marie and MYBURGH, Chris P.H.. Nurses and care workers' perceptions of their nurse-patient therapeutic relationship in private general hospitals, Gauteng, South Africa. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2013, vol.18, n.1, pp.1-7. ISSN 2071-9736.
Facilitation of a therapeutic relationship is an essential skill in nursing, particularly in mental-health care. Nurses and care workers in private general hospitals are exposed to the emotional effects of physical illness as well as the increase in admission of patients with mental-health needs. Poor nurse-patient relationships have been reported by patients and in the media. The researchers experienced incidents of apparent misunderstandings during nurse-patient interactions whilst working in private general hospitals. No studies have been done regarding how nurses and care workers perceive a therapeutic relationship with patients in terms of the patients' emotional and mental-health needs. A quantitative, contextual and deductive study was conducted in three private general hospitals in Gauteng, South Africa with a purposive sample of 154 nurses and 30 care workers. Based on the concepts of a therapeutic relationship, empathy, positive regard, genuineness, concreteness and self-exploration, nurses and care workers' perceptions of facilitating a therapeutic relationship were self-assessed using five-point scales in a questionnaire. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and non-parametric statistical techniques. Specific hypotheses were tested to identify whether statistically-significant differences existed between the perceptions of two or more groups of nurses and care workers. Results showed a general insensitivity and lack of awareness and reflection on the part of nurses and care workers with regard to the patients' emotional needs. When categories of nurses were compared, no statistically-significant differences were found between the perceptions of the various groups tested. There is a need for self-awareness, continued interpersonal skills training and supervision of nurses and care workers. A large percentage of the participants were younger than 40 years, subprofessional, with less than 10 years' experience as nurses or care workers. Private general hospitals should therefore equip all nurses and care workers with the necessary skills to facilitate a therapeutic relationship and to understand the emotional needs of all patients with both physical and emotional needs.