Details of Thesis

Title Waiting: a critical experience
Author Van Dreven, Amber
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2001
Abstract This study explores the experiences of relatives waiting. Often relatives wait for considerably long periods, especially in critical care areas, whilst their loved one, whose health status is unknown, receives care. To explore these experiences and to understand the symbolic meaning behind the participants’ stories, a grounded theory approach was utilised which is firmly rooted in the sociological theory of symbolic interactionism. A qualitative approach was employed in order to yield a rich description of the human experience often not found in quantitative studies (Jamerson, Scheibmeir, Bott, Crighton, Hinton and Kuckelman, 1996, p. 468). Similarly, the use of feminist principles to guide this study has facilitated a greater understanding of such issues as gender roles, language, power and hierarchy. Using grounded theory methodology, audio-taped interviews were conducted with six female relatives who were recruited using theoretical sampling. Simultaneous recruitment, data collection, analysis and literature review took place, as advocated and outlined by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (1967). The overarching core category discovered using this approach which epitomises the waiting experience, is the balancing of both positive and negative aspects of the four codes identified. These four codes are -mothering, trust, flustered anxiety and institutional and medical power. Each code had negative aspects, such as being denied the felt need to mother the critically ill loved one, being asked to entrust the health of a loved one to people that relatives had never met, feelings of fluster and anxiety, and a perception that they would interfere with medial care if they were to be involved in their loved one’s care. Conversely, each code could potentially have a positive aspect, such as being involved in the care of the loved one, feelings of relief once the care of the loved one was entrusted to ‘professional’ health care providers, affiliating with other relatives who were waiting in similar circumstances, and receiving frequent information from staff. A final model was produced that illustrates the balance that many relatives aspire to when waiting in the Emergency Department waiting room. If the balance tips in favour of the negative aspects of the codes, a negative impact on the relative’s feelings of well being can result.
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