Nurses' Perceptions of Unaccompanied Hospitalized Children
Cristine A. Roberts
The purpose of this study was to acknowledge and interpret the stories and perceptions of pediatric nurses who care for children left unaccompanied during their hospitalization. This was a phenomenological qualitative study conducted via interviews using open-ended questions. The study was conducted in a large Midwestern pediatric hospital that has both urban and suburban settings. Twelve nurses voluntarily completed the interviews. Recruitment was accomplished though a group e-mail that was sent to all registered nurses at the hospital complex. Nurses made assumptions about families particularly when the family did not communicate the reason for their absence. Unaccompanied children received equal nursing care but often received more attention than children whose families were present. Care for unaccompanied hospitalized children presents more challenges to nurses and may not be optimal for children. Nurses should examine their feelings and judgments about non-attendant families. Staffing levels should take into account whether the child has a guardian at the bedside.