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Recognition of Insufficient Competence—Nurses’ Experiences in Direct Involvement With Adolescent Children of Cancer Patients

Tafjord, Trine, MHSc, RN

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000646
Article: PDF Only

Background A parent’s cancer may have disruptive impact on his/her adolescent children. Currently, nurses have been regarded as central actors in direct involvement with patients’ minor children. Development of an extended nursing role has become a pertinent issue.

Objective Adolescents’ needs tend to be overlooked by nurses because of inexperience with this population. The aim of this study was to explore nurses’ experiences of direct involvement with these adolescents, to get a deeper understanding about this phenomenon.

Methods Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, 12 interviews were conducted among Norwegian nurses within the cancer care context. The category insufficient competence was explored through analyzing participants’ experiences of direct involvements with adolescents.

Results The recognition of insufficient competence became visible as nurses experienced being involved with a population about whom they held inadequate and limited knowledge. Adolescents were perceived as unpredictable and rejecting nurses’ approaches. Consequently, nurses feared involvement and experienced failing on their assignments. After completing more or less failed attempts to establish good relationships with adolescents, the nurses requested for more knowledge and experience in order to support this group.

Conclusions Nurses are recognizing insufficient competence in direct involvement with adolescents, which calls for extended competence. Because nurses are not the only responsible actors performing in this field, building competence requires a broadened attention at both an individual and organizational level, across several healthcare disciplines, as well as through user participation.

Implications for Practice Competence building should be considered in light of organizational frameworks, collective learning possibilities across disciplines, and opportunities for involving adolescents/young adults as user participants.

Author Affiliation: Faculty of Health Sciences and Social Care, Molde University College–University in Logistics, Molde; and Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Norwegian Centre for Research Data, project 43985.

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Trine Tafjord, MHSc, RN, Faculty of Health Sciences and Social Care, Molde University College–Specialized University in Logistics, PO Box 2110, 6402 Molde, Norway (

Accepted for publication June 28, 2018.

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