"Friendship, or Whatever it is": Understanding Nurse-Parent Relational Complexity in Pediatric Oncology Contexts

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As a result of the complex nature of childhood cancer, involving intense treatments and extended hospital stays, it is not uncommon for nurses and parents to develop meaningful and close relationships. However, this closeness can lead to dilemmas about how to navigate professional boundaries, in both online and offline contexts. In this philosophical hermeneutic inquiry, my purpose was to understand what contributes to the relational complexity in nurse-parent relationships, from both parent and nurse perspectives. Six parents of children with cancer and six pediatric oncology nurses were interviewed to deepen understanding about the topic of relational complexity. Interpretive findings from this research revealed that nurse-parent relationships are both deeply intimate and involve strangeness; recognizes what might be beneath and behind disagreement in nurse-parent relationships and what openness might offer to understanding one another when conflict arises; that social media adds considerable complexity to nurse-parent relational boundaries and that there is a liminality in the spaces between nurse and friend and parent that requires more acknowledgement; and that it deeply matters that we find language that fits to describe closeness in nurse-parent relationships. I conclude by recognizing the significant influence that quality nurse-parent relationships has for both nurses and parents on their experiences of co-caring for children with cancer. In addition, I argue that care that is relationship-based, which focuses on care for the parents and also for nurses, might better respond to the demands and triumphs associated with caring for children with cancer.
Nursing, Pediatric Oncology, Nurse-Parent Relationships, Relational Complexity, Social Media, Friendship, Professional Boundaries
Webber, K. M. (2024). "Friendship, or whatever it is": understanding nurse-parent relational complexity in pediatric oncology contexts (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.