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Enduring feelings of powerlessness as a burns nurse: a descriptive phenomenological inquiry


Kornhaber, RA and Wilson, A, Enduring feelings of powerlessness as a burns nurse: a descriptive phenomenological inquiry, Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for The Australian Nursing Profession, 39, (2) pp. 172-179. ISSN 1037-6178 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.5172/conu.2011.172


Feelings of powerlessness have been reported to affect nurses' perceived ability to provide competent quality care and have contributed to moral dilemmas and burnout among nurses. Burns nurses are a specific group of nurses who are more likely to experience feelings of powerlessness due to performing traumatic, painful and lengthy large dressing changes and procedures on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, nurses' perception of powerlessness is under reported in the area of burn care. The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to examine the feelings of powerlessness by nurses who care for severe burn injury patients. Data were analysed via Colaizzi's phenomenological method. Nurses' feelings of powerlessness were identified and organised into four cluster themes: inadequacy, apprehension, vulnerability and frustration.

The findings clearly demonstrate the need to address issues of powerlessness experienced among burns nurses and nurses alike. Burn nurses are often left feeling inadequate during and after burns procedures, due to the level of pain and emotion experienced by patients with severe burn injuries. Emotional intelligence may offer nurses the ability to empower themselves in order to enhance their professional development and leadership capabilities.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:powerlessness; nursing; phenomenology; 'lived experience'
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Nursing
Research Field:Acute care
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Provision of health and support services
Objective Field:Nursing
UTAS Author:Kornhaber, RA (Dr Rachel Kornhaber)
ID Code:94806
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:7
Deposited By:Health Sciences B
Deposited On:2014-09-17
Last Modified:2017-11-02

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