Exploratory study of nursing in an operating department: preliminary findings on the role of the nurse

Helen McGarvey, M Chambers, JENNIFER BOORE

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9 Citations (Scopus)


This study was exploratory and describes how nursing was viewed and practised by nurses who worked in an operating department. It also highlighted factors that might influence the role performance of operating department nurses. The research involved interviews with a sample of
6 nurses working in an operating department, observation of 32 hours of nursing work over 6 operating sessions, in addition to the analysis of various documents, including the nursing care plans of 22 patients. Data were triangulated and analysed by constant comparison.
Findings indicated that nurses had difficulty in articulating exactly what it was that operating department nursing entailed, but rather viewed their role in terms of the functions they performed. Observations indicated that the nursing role was primarily orientated toward the physical rather than the psychological aspects of care-giving. Furthermore, it appeared that the medical profession, nursing philosophy/leadership and the characteristics of patients all influenced the manner in which nurses enacted their role. These findings suggest that further research into the role of the nurse within the operating department environment is warranted.
Key factors from this study were developed into a framework suitable for guiding future study of the nursing role in this environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-356
Number of pages11
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Dec 1999


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