The experience of trauma resuscitation in the emergency department: themes from seven patients

J Emerg Nurs. 2004 Jun;30(3):216-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jen.2004.02.017.


Purpose: Little is known about the patients' experience of trauma resuscitation in the emergency department. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine (1) patients' perspectives of the experience of trauma resuscitation in the emergency department; (2) if patients have perceptions of vulnerability during trauma resuscitation in the emergency department; and (3) if there are factors that influence the patients' experience.

Methods: A qualitative study of 7 patients using interpretive phenomenology was conducted in a Level I lead trauma hospital in Ontario, Canada. Inclusion criteria included age >/=18 years; trauma code initiated in the emergency department; Glasgow Coma Scale score >/=13; Revised Trauma Score >/=10; and physically and cognitively capable of participating in an interview in English. The sample included 4 men and 3 women. One-on-one semistructured tape-recorded interviews were conducted on the in-patient Trauma Unit between day 2 and 7 after trauma resuscitation. Follow-up interviews were conducted 7 to 12 months after the initial interview.

Results: Four themes were revealed in the data analysis: "I remember," "I was scared," "I felt safe," and "I will be okay." The findings revealed that initial perceptions of vulnerability subsided as a sense of feeling safe became prominent. System factors, such as a clearly identifiable trauma team leader, and caring behaviors, such as touch and tone of voice, were important and contributed to the overall belief that it was a positive experience.

Conclusion: Both system factors and nursing interventions were important in contributing to the patients' feelings of being safe during trauma resuscitation in the emergency department. The fact that pain was felt or that family was not present, for example, seemed less important to patients than the perception that they were in capable hands and believed they were "safe."

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Empathy
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Trauma / psychology*
  • Multiple Trauma / therapy
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Ontario
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • Resuscitation / nursing
  • Resuscitation / psychology*
  • Safety
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Touch
  • Trauma Centers
  • Trust