Chen, Shu-Yueh, & Hui-Chen Hsu (2015, November). Nurses’ reflections on good nurse traits: Implications for improving care quality. Nursing Ethics, 22(7), 790-802. (doi: 10.1177/0969733014547973) (previously posted as in press)

Abstract: Background: Good nurses show concern for patients by caring for them effectively and attentively to foster their well-being. However, nurses cannot be taught didactically to be “good” or any trait that characterizes a good nurse. Nurses’ self-awareness of their role traits warrants further study. Objectives: This study aimed (a) to develop a strategy to elicit nurses’ self-exploration of the importance of good nurse traits and (b) to explore any discrepancies between such role traits perceived by nurses as ideally and actually important. Research design: For this mixed-method study, we used good nurse trait card play to trigger nurses’ reflections based on clinical practice. Nurse participants appraised the ideal and actual importance of each trait using a Q-sort grid. The gap between the perceived ideal and actual importance of each trait was examined quantitatively, while trait-related clinical experiences were analyzed qualitatively. Participants and research context: Participants were 35 in-service nurses (mean age = 31.6 years (range = 23–49 years); 10.1 years of nursing experience (range = 1.5–20 years)) recruited from a teaching hospital in Taiwan. Ethical considerations: The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the study site. Findings: Good nurse trait card play with a Q-sort grid served as an icebreaker to help nurse participants talk about their experiences as embodied in good quality nursing care. Nurses’ perceived role-trait discrepancies were divided into three categories: over-performed, least discrepant, and under-performed. The top over-performed trait was “obedience.” Discussion: Patients’ most valued traits (“patient,” “responsible,” “cautious,” and “considerate”) were perceived by participants as ideally important but were under-performed, perhaps due to experienced nurses’ loss of idealism. Conclusion: Good nurse trait card play with Q-sort grid elicited nurses’ self-dialogue and revealed evidence of the incongruity between nurses’ perceived ideal and actual importance of traits. The top over-performed trait, “obedience,” deserves more study.

Shu-Yueh Chen is in the Department of Nursing, Hung Kuang University, Taichung City, Taiwan, R.O.C.

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