An exploration of paediatric nurses’ views of caring for infants who have suffered nonaccidental injury

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Abstract

Aims and objectives: To explore paediatric nurses’ views of caring for infants who have suffered nonaccidental injury. Background: Children less than two years of age are at greater risk of serious abuse than those in any other age group. An infant's physical and mental immaturity makes them especially vulnerable. Abuse in this age group is often caused by a parent who does not report the abuse. The experience of caring for abused children is recognised as being both personally and professionally challenging. However, despite the increased risk of serious or fatal injury, caring for these infants who have suffered abuse is relatively unexplored. Design: A qualitative research design using purposive sampling was adopted. The setting for this research was a paediatric unit in Ireland. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 paediatric nurses and data were analysed using the framework approach. Results: Paediatric nurses’ views of caring for infants who have suffered a nonaccidental injury were established under four main themes: (1) ‘Personal impact’, (2) ‘Professional roles’, (3) ‘Nurse-client relationship’ and (4) ‘Resources’. Conclusion: Findings highlighted that the experience for the nurse is complex. Personal emotions are evoked and the experience influenced reflection on their own lives. Communication with the parents of the infant is often difficult. Professional relationships were sometimes hindered by poor sharing of information. However, nurses strived to maintain their professionalism and to provide nursing care for the infant and their parents that was holistic. Paediatric nurses relied heavily on each other for support and their nursing experience was a valuable resource for managing nonaccidental injuries. Relevance to clinical practice: The general consensus was that a nurse could never fully be prepared to care for an infant who had suffered a nonaccidental injury. However, recommendations for future practice and education are identified and include frequent and practical education sessions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2274-2285
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Volume26
Issue number15-16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Keywords

  • child abuse
  • infant
  • nonaccidental injury
  • paediatric nurse

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