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J Korean Acad Nurs. 2019 Aug;49(4):423-436. Korean. Original Article.
Jang MS , Kim S .
College of Nursing, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.
College of Nursing·The Research Institute of Nursing Science, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.


The aim of the study was to explore nurses' experience of person-centered relational care in the context of critical care.


Key interview questions were developed based on the human-to-human relationship model suggested by Travelbee. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of 11 nurses having more than 2 years of working experience in intensive care units. An interpretative phenomenological analysis was conducted to analyze the data.


Four super-ordinate and nine sub-ordinate themes were identified. Emerged super-ordinate themes were as follows: (1) encountering a live person via patient monitoring systems; (2) deep empathic connection; (3) humanistic and compassionate care, and (4) accompanying the journey to the end. Study findings revealed that nurses in intensive care units experienced ‘balancing emotions’ and ‘authenticity’ in caring when entering human-to-human relationships with dying patients. The phenomenon of person-centered relational care in intensive care units was found to subsume intrinsic attributes of empathy, compassion, and trust, similar to the central concepts of Travelbee's theory.


The interpretative findings in this study provide deeper understanding of Travelbee's human-to-human relationship model. The technological environment in intensive care units did not hinder experienced nurses from forming human-to-human relationships. These themes need to be emphasized in critical care nursing education as well as in nursing management. The results of this study will contribute to understanding nurse-patient caring relationships in depth, and help improve the quality of nursing care in intensive care units.

Copyright © 2019. Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors.