Experiences of critical care nurses caring for patients in traumatic coma or pharmacological paralysis

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Nancy S. Hogan, Committee Chair


Grounded theory methodology was utilized to explore the experiences of critical care nurses caring for patients comatose due to a traumatic brain injury or receiving neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs). The registered nurses participating in this study worked in a Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit. Saturation of the categories was achieved with 16 interviews.The core category emerging from this study is Giving the Patient a Chance. The subcategories of Learning about My Patient, Maintaining and Monitoring, Talking to My Patient, Working with Families, Struggling with Dilemmas, and Personalizing the Experience all centered upon the focus of doing everything to help the patient attain the best possible outcome. Factors that influence each of the subcategories are identified. These factors are responsible for the variations in nurses' experiences. Several reasons accounting for the variations are determined. The study identifies areas that need to be addressed in both general nursing education and nursing practice and makes recommendations for improvements in these areas, as well as for future studies.


Health Sciences, Nursing

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