The Role of the Nurse in Helping Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation Patients Cope with Emotional Distress: A Qualitative Approach
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT), a common treatment for various hematopoietic cancers, involves lengthy hospital stays as well as intensive chemotherapy prior to the transplant. Many patients exhibit clinically significant symptoms of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after transplant, due to the demanding nature of the treatment process and the associated risks. However, little research has been done concerning how nurses' actions impact the emotional well-being of these patients; most studies lack evidence related to the nursing staff's precise role in this distressing situation. The purpose of this study was to explore, using a qualitative approach, participants' personal experiences with their nurses throughout all phases of treatment, focusing on interventions and actions nurses took to ease the participants' reported anxiety, depression, or PTSD symptoms. A convenience sampling method was used to recruit participants. Nine English-speaking individuals (M age = 55 years; 78% female; 67% allogeneic) from around the US were invited to participate in semi-structured in-depth interviews. Seven major themes emerged from the interviews: (1) support from nurse, (2) physical symptoms, (3) emotional/cognitive distress, (4) open/honest communication, (5) coping, (6) continuity of nurses, and (7) anticipatory guidance. Results indicated the need for heavy psychosocial support, informational support, and active listening from nurses. Implications for nursing practice included an increased need for education on the best timing for implementation of nurse-led interventions, as well as further investigation into strategies for nurses to provide optimal psychosocial care for HCT patients.