Do Nurses Exercise Power in Basic Care Situations?
Nursing Ethics 2003 May; 10(3): 269-280
Power is a matter of authority and control. It can be wielded either consciously or unconsciously, and it can be either overt or latent. Using a structured questionnaire, this study set out to describe nurses' opinions about the exercise of power in basic care situations in both acute and long-term care. The questionnaire was organized into four categories in which items concerned: power in obligatory daily activities; power in activities necessitated by obligatory activities; power in voluntary activities; and power in activities that take into account the patient's characteristics. The samples consisted of 228 nurses from five medical and surgical wards of district hospitals, and 233 nurses from five geriatric units of a community health centre and from one nursing home in Finland. The final response rate was 65% (acute care 76%; long-term care 55%). Data analysis was based on statistical methods. The results showed that, in the nurses' own opinion, negative power is exercised only in certain situations and in the patient's best interest, when for instance there are concerns that something may happen to the patient.
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