Love and work: oncology nurses' view of the meaning of their work.

M. Z. Cohen, B. Sarter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Phenomenological interviews with 23 nurses and more than 200 hours of participant observation on units of one cancer hospital were conducted to obtain a better understanding of how nurses caring for patients with cancer view their work. When asked to discuss a "critical incident" that captures the essence of oncology nursing for them, most nurses described acute physiologic emergencies. A few nurses described psychosocial needs and explained how they had helped or were unable to help patients and families deal with these needs. A major theme in these incidents was how they related to the nurses' own lives. These findings suggest the need to provide nurses with support and an opportunity to discuss their work. Oncology nurses appear to be motivated by a deep concern for patients and families that creates tremendous stress when conditions such as poor staffing, excessive use of registry nurses, and unexpected crises occur. The task orientation of these nurses also seems to be based on their fundamental concern for patient welfare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1481-1486
Number of pages6
JournalOncology nursing forum
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)


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