Caring for families: double binds in neuroscience nursing

Linda Yetman
Canadian Journal of Neuroscience Nursing 2009, 31 (1): 22-9
Despite the proliferation of literature related to nurse-family relationships, little is known about such relationships in acute care neuroscience environments. A grounded theory study illuminated the experiences of nurses caring for families of patients with acquired brain injuries in the context of acute care hospital environments. Nurses, working in pressure-cooker-like environments, tried to meet information and emotional needs of families. During data analysis, a communication pattern emerged that impacted on nurses' experiences and relationships with families. This communication pattern, known as a double bind, contributed to a pattern of nursing that emerged and offers an explanation for the behaviours of the nurses in coping with family members. Nurses felt "damned if they did and damned if they didn't". To provide family-centred care, we need to fully understand the experiences of nurses caring for these families. This paper describes the concept of double bind and its application to neuroscience nursing.

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