Tracie North


Abstract What is love in nursing care? A qualitative study Recent failures in care highlighted through documents such as the Frances report have pointed to lack of kindness, respect and dignity in patient care and lack of professionalism. As a consequence, nurse education has come under the microscope, with questions about the potential to teach nurses compassion. The demonstration of these values were once, perhaps, more tangible and overt in nurse training and nursing care. The expression ‘tender loving care’ was used as an expression of nursing intervention, which often gave comfort and confidence to patients and their loved ones. There has been some speculation that as nurse training has become more ‘technical’ and degree-based, the emphasis has moved away from compassion and love in care. The aim of this study is to explore, from the perspective of nurse educators, love in nursing care and to understand how the concept of love in nursing can be integrated into education. The study design had two phases: A meta-synthesis of the literature and review which developed an understanding of love from the viewpoint of writers in theology, culture, history and sociology. How love is expressed in nursing was explored and presented. The relevant university research ethics committee provided ethical approval for the study. Qualitative semi-structured interviews using a judgement sample of volunteer nurse educators was conducted. The research question was unambiguous, ‘What is love in nursing care’? The transcripts of the interviews were analysed using Framework Analysis that is appropriate for health care and policy research. The commentary that these educators chose to use revealed four themes, human values, therapeutic relationships, attitude and context, which make up love in nursing care. The nurse educators in this research gave meaning to human values through their description of the reciprocity experienced in care, the interconnectedness which can occur with the maintenance of professional boundaries and through the unconditional positive regard described as knowing another’s vulnerability and being there for that person.

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