Trauma patients' encounters with the team in the emergency department—a qualitative study

Elisabeth Wiman, Karin Wikblad, Ewa Idvall
International Journal of Nursing Studies 2007, 44 (5): 714-22

BACKGROUND: Encounters in emergency departments have been described from different perspective and with different research approaches. On reviewing the literature, along with medical skills, interpersonal skills such as the ability to create a relationship with the patient was considered significant. Patients exposed to high-energy violence arrive at the emergency department in a vulnerable condition. Apart from their physical condition, they might be in shock and frightened by the experiences of the injury. The team at the emergency department is responsible for a complex situation and has to quickly establish rapport, gather information, assess the physical condition, and design a treatment plan.

AIM: The aim of this study was to explore trauma patients' conceptions of the encounter with the trauma team.

DESIGN AND METHOD: A qualitative inductive design was used and data were collected by semi-structured interviews. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed according to contextual analysis.

PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-three trauma patients with minor injuries, 17 from a university hospital and six from a county hospital with minor injuries, were included in the study.

FINDINGS: The main findings were three main categories, labelled modes of being with the patients: the instrumental, the attentive and the uncommitted mode. All encounters contained the instrumental mode and mostly there were a combination of instrumental mode and attentive mode. The patients were satisfied with these modes, which created emotions of confidence, comfort and satisfaction. The uncommitted mode occurred in some encounters together and generated emotions of abandonment, dissatisfaction.

CONCLUSION: The main conclusion is that a high-quality encounter in trauma care is likely to be received from caregivers who can shift their mode of being with the patient between the instrumental and the attentive mode as the patient/situation demands. That is, flexibility between the physical and psycho-social care.

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