Item Details

Pain and nurses' emotion work in a paediatric clinic: Treatment procedures and nurse-child alignments

Issue: Vol 10 No. 1 (2013)

Journal: Communication & Medicine

Subject Areas: Healthcare Communication Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/cam.v10i1.51


In the treatment of cancer in children, treatment procedures have been reported to be one of the most feared elements, as more painful than the illness as such. This study draws on a video ethnography of routine needle procedure events, as part of fieldwork at a paediatric oncology clinic documenting everyday treatment negotiations between nurses and young children. On the basis of detailed transcriptions of verbal and nonverbal staff–child interaction, the analyses focus on ways in which pain and anxiety can be seen as phenomena that are partly contingent on nurses’ emotion work. The school-age children did not display fear. In the preschool group, though, pain and fear seemed to be phenomena that were greatly reduced through nurses’ emotion work. This study focuses on three preschoolers facing potentially painful treatment, showing how the nurses engaged in massive emotion work with the children, through online commentaries, interactive formats (delegation of tasks, consent sequences, collaborative
‘we’-formats), as well as solidarity-oriented moves (such as praise and endearment terms). Even a young toddler would handle the distress of needle
procedures, when interacting with an inventive nurse who mobilized child participation through skilful emotion work.

Author: Camilla Rindstedt

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