The patients' perspective: A study of care and empathy in allied health professionals

Teresa May Barrett-Jasensky, Fordham University

Abstract

This phenomenological study interpreted the meaning of caring and empathic allied health professionals from the chronically ill patients' perspective. The theoretical framework of the philosophical, psychological, theological, spiritual, and pastoral perspectives of care and empathy guided the study. Using in-depth interviewing and life stories from chronically ill participants, themes that identified care and empathy in allied health professionals emerged.^ Four chronically ill participants were selected using maximum variation sampling from two access sites. Each participant was interviewed in their home, over a period of 5 months. The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. The transcripts were reviewed by hand and entered into a computer software program, NUD.IST, to assist in sorting the data. Initial codes were identified and pattern codes emerged by using a constant comparative method.^ The findings of the study revealed four themes attributed to caring allied health professionals: Sharing time, active engagement, communication, and relationship formation. The themes were called caring practices. Development of the caring practices varied in their nature and time. The element of time spent with patient and allied health professional was not important. It was concluded from the study that caring relationships did not necessarily evolve from long term contact with the patient.^ The effects of caring health professionals were considered valuable and to have lifelong benefits for the chronically ill. The participants in the study considered caring practices in allied health professionals to have healing qualities. Sharing time, active engagement, communication, and relationship formation by the allied health professional fostered the sense of honoring the chronically ill patient, not their disease. Caring practices, viewed from the lens of the chronically ill participants, were more valued than expert technical competency in allied health professionals.^ The study concluded that caring health professionals fostered a spirit of wholeness and well-being for chronically ill patients. Further studies should be conducted to explore ways in which caring practices in allied health professionals can be developed. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Rehabilitation and Therapy

Recommended Citation

Teresa May Barrett-Jasensky, "The patients' perspective: A study of care and empathy in allied health professionals" (January 1, 1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9808994.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9808994

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