n Africa Journal of Nursing and Midwifery - South African professional nurses' experiences of caring for HIV / AIDS patients

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1682-5055


Qualitative research was conducted in a particular hospital in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The researchers explored the emotions which professional nurses experience while caring for HIV / AIDS patients, the factors that give rise to these emotional experiences and how the therapeutic relationship was affected thereby.

The intention was to explicate the participating nurses' personal experiences and the nature of the therapeutic relationship, considering their perceived risk of contracting HIV infection whilst caring for HIV / AIDS patients.
A generic qualitative research design was applied. Professional nurses who rendered care to HIV / AIDS patients on a daily basis were approached for participation. Focus group interviews involving a sample of purposively selected professional nurses were conducted. During data analysis a process of qualitative analysis, induction and synthesis was followed. Frankl's philosophy of meaning in life served as a conceptual framework for interpreting the research findings.
The research results reveal that the participants experienced negative emotions due to the perceived risk of contracting HIV infection as a result of accidental or intentional exposure to blood or body fluids of infected patients. This negatively impacted upon the participants' ability to engage in ethical practice and maintain a therapeutic relationship with these patients. However, there was evidence that some of the participants experienced a sense of fulfilment and were able to discover meaning in their lives in the workplace.

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