Enduring feelings of powerlessness as a burns nurse: a descriptive phenomenological inquiry

Rachel Kornhaber, Anne Wilson

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    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Feelings of powerlessness have been reported to affect nurses' perceived ability to provide competent quality care and have contributed to moral dilemmas and burnout among nurses. Burns nurses are a specific group of nurses who are more likely to experience feelings of powerlessness due to performing traumatic, painful and lengthy large dressing changes and procedures on a daily basis. Nevertheless, nurses' perception of powerlessness is under reported in the area of burn care. The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to examine the feelingsof powerlessness by nurses who care for severe burn injury patients. Data were analysed via Colaizzi's phenomenological method. Nurses' feelingsof powerlessness were identified and organised into four cluster themes: inadequacy, apprehension, vulnerability and frustration. The findings clearly demonstrate the need to address issues of powerlessness experienced among burns nurses and nurses alike. Burn nurses are often left feeling inadequate during and after burns procedures, due to the level of pain and emotion experienced by patients with severe burn injuries. Emotional intelligence may offer nurses the ability to empower themselves in order to enhance their professional development and leadership capabilities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)172-179
    Number of pages8
    JournalContemporary Nurse
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Burns nursing
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Phenomenology
    • Powerlessness
    • Vulnerability


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