The experiences of parents and nurses of hospitalised infants requiring oxygen therapy for severe bronchiolitis: A phenomenological study

J Child Health Care. 2015 Jun;19(2):216-28. doi: 10.1177/1367493513503587. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


Bronchiolitis is a major cause of children's admission to hospital. The study aim was to describe the experiences of parents who had, or nurses who cared for, a child admitted to hospital for severe bronchiolitis requiring oxygen therapy. A descriptive phenomenological approach was used to interview 12 mothers and 12 nurses. The findings were clustered into three domains: fear, parent-child interaction and technical caring. The mothers found the experience to be extremely frightening, based on their fear that their child could die. This was compounded by their lack of knowledge and understanding about what was happening and their inability to fulfil their mothering role. Although nurses recognised that parents were anxious, they did not seem to appreciate fully the depth of fear and emotion that mothers were experiencing and tended to describe procedural aspects of their role. The mothers' relationship with their child was focused upon physical contact and the desire to comfort their child. Their ability to do so was significantly impacted upon by the method of oxygen delivery to their child. For nurses, although they recognised the psychosocial dimension, their emphasis was on health and safety aspects of oxygen therapy, both for the child and themselves.

Keywords: Bronchiolitis; headbox; high-flow oxygen therapy; infants; psychosocial; respiratory distress.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Bronchiolitis / therapy*
  • Emotions
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / nursing*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Professional-Family Relations*