Compassionate presence: The meaning of hematopoietic stem cell transplant nursing

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2011 Apr;15(2):103-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2010.06.006. Epub 2010 Jul 27.


Purpose: Within oncology, working with patients who are suffering or at end-of-life has been recognized repeatedly as stress-inducing, yet there is little agreement on what specifically nurses may experience as a result of their work. Further, research focused on caring work within the context of hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) nursing is almost non-existent. In light of the gap, this interpretative phenomenological study focused on enhancing the knowledge and understanding of the effect(s) of nursing work on the psychosocial health and well being of HSCT nurses.

Method: An interpretative phenomenological design grounded in the work of Heidegger and van Manen was used to explore nursing work among HSCT nurses. Twelve nurses from three Canadian tertiary healthcare facilities participated in multiple interviews and focus groups.

Findings: Thematic analysis resulted in the emergence of four core themes and one overarching novel theme, compassionate presence. The discussion provides an overview of the novel finding, compassionate presence, which challenges the notion that working with individuals who are suffering or at end-of-life inevitably leads to adverse psychosocial effects. Implications for practice, education and research are also provided.

Conclusion: Compassionate presence emerged to suggest a potential buffering effect against adverse consequences of HSCT nursing work. This finding underscored the value of the relationship as an integral component of nursing work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Neoplasms / surgery
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Oncology Nursing / methods
  • Quality of Health Care