The Therapeutic Relationship in the Shadow: Nurses' Experiences of Barriers to the Nurse-Patient Relationship in the Psychiatric Ward.
Malek Fereidooni Moghadam
Masoud Fallahi Khoshknab
Houshang Alijani Renani
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The therapeutic relationship is widely accepted as the basic core and essence of the psychiatric nurse's role and is thus essential for providing quality mental health care. A detailed and clear perception of the issues that facilitate or obstruct this relationship is therefore important. The purpose of this study was to gain insights into the experiences of nurses working in psychiatry wards, of the barriers to the nurse-patient relationship. A qualitative content-analysis study was undertaken using a purpose-based sampling approach with the participation of 15 nurses employed in psychiatric wards in hospitals located in South Iran. Semi-structured interviews provided the source of data, and an inductive content-analysis approach was used for data analysis. The main concept extracted from the study was identified as 'the therapeutic relationship in the shadow', which captured the sense that this critical relationship is mostly unseen in the daily practice of the nurses interviewed. Factors that functioned as barriers to this relationship were classified into three main categories: nurse-related, patient-related and organization-related. The results of this study revealed that, despite the widely claimed importance of the nurse-patient relationship in psychiatric settings, this relationship is powerfully influenced by individual and organizational factors that have not been considered adequately in previous research. It is strongly recommended that greater consideration of these factors be given to care planning in psychiatric wards.