Dependence is a common life experience and innate condition for human beings due to their bodily and relational essence, but in contemporary society, it has become a stressful condition. Care dependence is central to nursing, and patients with advanced cancer are often dependent on care. Understanding nurses’ perceptions of care dependence can contribute to awareness of the impact it has on nurses.
The aim of this study was to explore palliative care nurses’ experiences and perceptions regarding patient dependence.
Sixteen nurses taking care of dependent patients in a palliative care center in Rome were interviewed. Giorgi’s descriptive phenomenological method was used.
Nurses caring for dependent patients transcend the boundaries of dependence. Care dependence is an experience of powerlessness and regression. A patient’s life in dependence is precarious, as they have to overcome the daily limits of life. Taking care of dependent patients requires nurses to manage the unmanageable and to know and to embrace change from within in order to build positive relations of personal closeness and reciprocal self-giving.
Nurses should be aware that self-transcendence and the consequent positive relations could make the difference in the experience of care dependence and promote personal growth for both patient and nurse. Positive and transcending relationships can transform care dependence into the opportunity to find meaning and purpose in life.
Implications for Practice
The study highlights what nurses feel in caring for dependent patients. Understanding nurses’ perceptions is important to delineate a proper caring for dependent patients.