Nurses’ concerns about caring for patients with acute and chronic traumatic brain injury
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AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: As a first step in developing traumatic brain injury-specific nursing education, the purpose of this study was to investigate nurses' concerns about caring for patients with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury. BACKGROUND: Patients with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury typically have significant immediate and chronic cognitive impairments. These cognitive impairments can negatively affect their inpatient stay after an acute traumatic brain injury and affect their health care later in life when seeking care for other acute health conditions during the chronic phase of traumatic brain injury. Nurses must be knowledgeable about modifying care to accommodate the cognitive impairments of these patients throughout the continuum of care. Yet, current guidelines focus exclusively on acute care and do not address nurses' central role in dealing with residual cognitive impairments of these patients. Thus, educational and training interventions are needed to ensure nurses have adequate knowledge to care for these patients. DESIGN: We conducted a cross-sectional, exploratory survey of 692 nurses across hospital departments at three hospitals between October 2014-August 2015. Nurses answered the following qualitative open-ended question: "What are your primary concerns about providing care to patients with moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury?" METHODS: Conventional qualitative content analysis was used to analyse nurses' responses. RESULTS: Findings showed nurses reported multiple concerns about caring for patients in the acute phase after traumatic brain injury, but few concerns about caring for patients in the chronic phase. Some of the concerns nurses reported included: (i) preventing physical injury; (ii) missing changes in condition; (iii) providing adequate education; (iv) providing support; and (v) promoting recovery. Barriers to providing adequate care were as follows: (i) lack of knowledge; (ii) limited staffing; and (iii) inadequate resources. CONCLUSIONS: Findings have implications for education of nurses and development of nursing guidelines for management of patients with traumatic brain injury, including providing direction for nurses on development of care plans for patients in the chronic phase after a moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury.
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