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Discourses of anxiety in nursing practice : a psychoanalytic case study of the change-of-shift handover ritual

Evans, Alicia, Pereira, David and Parker, Judith 2008, Discourses of anxiety in nursing practice : a psychoanalytic case study of the change-of-shift handover ritual, Nursing inquiry, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 40-48, doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1800.2008.00387.x.

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Title Discourses of anxiety in nursing practice : a psychoanalytic case study of the change-of-shift handover ritual
Author(s) Evans, Alicia
Pereira, David
Parker, Judith
Journal name Nursing inquiry
Volume number 15
Issue number 1
Start page 40
End page 48
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Place of publication Oxford, England
Publication date 2008-03
ISSN 1320-7881
1440-1800
Keyword(s) anxiety
handover
nursing
psychoanalysis
ritual
shift-report
stress
Summary This paper reports on the findings of a study that considered how anxiety might function to organise nurses' practice. With reference to psychoanalytic theory this paper analyses field notes taken during a series of nursing change-of-shift handovers. The handover practices analysed met all the criteria for a ritual, as understood in psychoanalytic theory, and functioned to alleviate anxiety in the short term while symbolically expressing a forbidden and unknown knowledge. We argue that the handover ritual contained certain prohibitions, yet allowed some expression of the prohibited knowledge in a disguised way. The prohibition concerned how the patient affected the nurse, that is, moved the nurse to love and hate the patient. We argue that this prohibition is expressed, in disguise, via the displacement of affection for the patient onto other nurses and through negative stereotyping of some patients. We also argue that these prohibitions of the handover mirror broader prohibitions within nursing, and thus the rituals of the handover become an expression of how professional prohibitions are enacted in practice. We conclude that the important implicit function of the handover ritual is to keep anxiety at bay, thereby enabling the nurse to commence practice rather than being immobilised by the effect of potentially overwhelming anxiety.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/j.1440-1800.2008.00387.x
Field of Research 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
HERDC collection year 2008
Copyright notice ©2008, The authors
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30017067

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Nursing and Midwifery
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