Vol. 24 No. 1 (2020): Journal of Nursing Pensar Enfermagem

The emotional process experienced by nurses in the interaction with maltreatment parents in the child health nursing consultation

Maria da Luz Fonseca Rosa
enfermeira Gestora, Especialista em Enfermagem de Saúde Infantil e Pediátrica, Doutoranda em Enfermagem; Mestre em Comunicação em Saúde, Agrupamento de Centros de Saúde Almada-Seixal, Portugal
Paula Diogo
professor Adjunto; Doutoramento em Enfermagem, Especialista em Enfermagem de Saúde Mental e Psiquiátrica e Especialista em Enfermagem de Saúde Infantil e Pediátrica, Escola Superior de Enfermagem de Lisboa, Portugal
Luísa Barros
Professora Catedrática, Faculdade de Psicologia; CICPsi, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Published 2020-09-29


  • Pediatric nursing,
  • Parents,
  • Child Abuse,
  • Interpersonal Relations,
  • Emotions

How to Cite

Fonseca Rosa, M. da L., Diogo, P., & Barros, L. (2020). The emotional process experienced by nurses in the interaction with maltreatment parents in the child health nursing consultation. Pensar Enfermagem, 24(1), 39–57. https://doi.org/10.56732/pensarenf.v24i1.168


Caring for child victims of abuse involves a multiplicity of challenges for nurses and emotional management among them. Nurses need to manage ambivalent feelings in order to protect the child (mistreated) and, at the same time, support the parents (mistreating). In the literature, the importance of nurses’ emotional management has been recognized to prevent the emotions experienced from having negative implications in terms of the quality of care, as well as in their well-being and emotional balance. Thus, we intend to answer the following research question, how do child health nurses manage their emotionality in encounters with abusive parents? The following objectives were defined: 1) To analyze what nurses experience emotionally in encounters with abusive parents; 2) Understand the emotional management process of nurses in the interaction of care with abusive parents. This study is located in the naturalist paradigm, having chosen the Grounded Theory methodology, with a predominantly inductive approach. As for the data collection instruments, 11 nursing consultations were carried out, 11 semi-structured interviews were conducted and a focus group was carried out with 6 nurses. The analytical tools are derived from the steps of this research
methodology, using the NVivo 12 content analysis software. The findings reveal that the nurses’ emotional management process in the meetings with the abusive parents is characterized by the emotional impact in the first meetings with the child / parents, which can lead to an extreme emotional situation that compromises the therapeutic relationship. However, in most cases, nurses are able to structure a close relationship with these families, characterized by a therapeutic relationship and proximity with the child and with the parents, mobilizing emotional management strategies in a continuum of the intervention with the mistreating parents, that can realy on a rewarding or disturbing emotional challenge. However, both the rewarding emotional challenge and the disturbing emotional challenge are enhancers of experiential learning, which leads to an adaptive and resilient process of nurses who accompany these families.


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