When a child says ‘no’: experiences of nurses working with children having invasive procedures
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When a child says ‘no’: experiences of nurses working with children having invasive procedures

Michael Lloyd DClinPsych, Clinical Psychologist, Blurton Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team, Stoke-on-Trent
Gary Urquhart Law DClinPsych, Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Birmingham
Alison Heard CPsychol Head of Specialty, Child Psychology, Holly Lodge, Stoke on Trent
Biza Kroese Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Birmingham

Experiencing invasive medical procedures can be a devastating experience for some children and their parents. The potential impact on staff who perform the procedure and who may have to restrain the child who is unwilling to have an essential procedure is a neglected area of research. Children’s distress and their coping are affected by those around them so it is important to understand how nurses react in these situations.

Aim: to explore the experiences of nursing staff involved in facilitating invasive procedures for children who do not want them.

Method: participants were selected at random from staff lists of one hospital in the west midlands. data collection was undertaken using unstructured qualitative interviews with ten paediatric nurses and in two focus groups. theories generated from each interview were tested and validated with participants in subsequent interviews and then in the focus groups.

Findings: the most common experiences reported by the participants were ‘getting upset’ and ‘getting stressed’ by some aspect of the medical procedure, either because the child or parents became upset or the procedure had gone wrong in some way. procedural protocols that exist to protect children, for example, by limiting the number of unsuccessful attempts to undertake the procedure, also protect staff by providing a framework to manage emotions during the procedure. being able to explain the process and need for the procedure to the child and parents, obtaining consent where possible for the use of certain techniques, such as restraint, and having the time to adequately prepare a child for a procedure, all helped minimise the likelihood of an unsuccessful procedure, thereby reducing the risk of the nurse being emotionally affected by a distressed child.

Conclusion: nurses working with children who are unwilling to undergo invasive procedures experience negative emotions but these are short lived due to a combination of protective factors and coping strategies. further research is needed to understand the experiences of medical staff and of nurses working outside paediatric environments who may not experience the same support and protection as those in paediatric settings.

Nursing Children and Young People. 20, 4,29-34. doi: 10.7748/paed.20.4.29.s24

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