Male Nurses' Dealing with Tensions and Conflicts with Patients and Physicians: a Theoretically Framed Analysis
Mao, A.; Wang, J.; Zhang, Y.; Cheong, P.L.; Van, I.K.; Tam, H.L.
Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare 13: 1035-1045
Delivery of healthcare involves engagements of patients, nurses and other health professionals. The Social Identity Theory (SIT) can provide a lens to investigate intergroup interactions. This study explores how male nurses deal with intergroup tensions and conflicts with patients and physicians when delivering healthcare. A collaborative qualitative research study was conducted by two research teams, with one from Mainland China and the other from Macau. Twenty-four male nurses were recruited, with 12 from each of the two regions. A similar guide was used by the two teams to conduct in-depth interviews with the participants. Thematic analysis was used, and SIT guided the data analysis and interpretation of the results. Four themes identified are related to nurse/patient relationships: respecting patients' decisions, neglecting minor offenses, defending dignity, taking a dominant position; two themes are related to nurse/physician relationships: rationalizing physicians' superiority over nurses, establishing relationships with physicians by interpersonal interactions. Male nurses avoid confrontation with patients in case of disagreements but take on gender- and profession-based dominance in dealing with intense conflicts to maintain healthcare order. They do not challenge the status hierarchy between nurses and physicians but manage to maintain harmonious relationships with physicians by engaging in interpersonal activities with physicians in leisure times. Male nurses can take the lead to create inclusive groups to engage patients and physicians in delivering healthcare. The masculine traits of male nurses do not subvert the nurse/physician hierarchy stereotype but strengthen it.