Research on nurse-patient relationships: problems of theory, problems of practice

J Adv Nurs. 1990 Mar;15(3):307-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.1990.tb01818.x.


Research, theoretical and educational literature on interpersonal relations between nurses and patients has proliferated since the 1960s. This has generated a range of divergent accounts of what the nurse-patient relationship (NPR) ought to be; how this should be achieved; and how the NPR is constituted in practice. In this paper--through a selective review of the literature--the development of two contending perspectives on NPR and on nurse-patient interaction (NPI) characterized as technocratic and contextual, is discussed, and related to the increasingly problematic status of the relationship between nurses and patients in nursing theory and research.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Job Description
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nursing Care
  • Nursing Research*
  • Nursing Staff / psychology
  • Nursing Theory*
  • Role
  • Self Concept
  • Social Environment
  • Stereotyping