The helpful patient-nurse relationship requires nurses to build interpersonal connections with patients and is made stronger by the nurses’ abilities to understand their own selves and by being culturally aware. One of the biggest cultural differences which impacts the nurse’s ability to communicate effectively in the development of the helpful patient-nurse relationship is when the patient speaks a different language than the nurse.
According to Stein-Parbury (2009), the characteristics of the helpful patient-nurse relationship are social versus professional relationships, interpersonal distance versus involvement, therapeutic superficiality versus intimacy, and mutuality and reciprocity. Professional relationships differ from social relationships in that they are goal-directed and confined to a particular setting, and also have time and space limits, meaning that they do not go on for life (Stein-Parbury, 2009). Professional relationships between patient and nurse eventually come to an end. The most important difference, however, is that the patient-nurse relationship is mainly established by the nurse with an emphasis on the needs of the patient (Stein-Parbury, 2009).
When forming relationships with patients, nurses are often advised of the risks of being emotionally involved, since this may leave nurses emotionally drained. Professional behaviour necessitates emotional detachment for objectivity to be maintained in decision making. It is important not to become too involved with a patient. Boundaries are imperative when forming relationships with patients. Interpersonal distancing and lack of involvement are used as defensive strategies by nurses to cope with the hardships of nursing (Stein-Parbury, 2009). These can, however, impede the helpful patient-nurse relationship and cause negative outcomes for the patient (Stajduhar, Thorne, McGuiness &Kim-Sing, 2010).
All patient-nurse relationships begin at a level of superficiality where chit-chat and non-personal conversation is exchanged (Stein-Parbury, 2009). Therapeutic superficiality forms the basis for therapeutic intimacy where patients and nurses feel free to share their perceptions, thoughts and feelings. Therapeutically intimate relationships are considered to have a great amount of trust, mutual involvement and self-disclosure. Interpersonal involvement between patient and nurse needs to be mutually agreed upon. The mutual exchange of meaningful thoughts and feelings between patient and nurse is defined as therapeutic reciprocity, which is necessary to form helpful patient-nurse relationships (Stein-Parbury; 2009).
The patient-nurse relationship can be described as interpersonal for the reason that it involves interaction between two or more individuals. Meaningful interpersonal connections are not coincidental occurrences (Chinn & Kramer; 2008). According to ‘Nursing Theories’ (2012), the four characteristics of interpersonal connectedness are orientation,...