The purpose of this study was to assess nurse-patient interaction in the stress-producing situation of a hospital emergency room. The problem was to ascertain if interpersonal techniques in the emergency room were therapeutic or nontherapeutic.

The following subproblems were studied: (1) Does the interaction between professional nursing personnel and emergency room patients tend to be more therapeutic than the interaction between nonprofessional nursing personnel and emergency room patients? (2) What interpersonal techniques are most used by nursing personnel in the emergency room? (3) Does the type of patient influence the therapeutic or nontherapeutic interaction of the nursing personnel in the emergency room?

The descriptive survey was the method used in this study. Fifty hours were spent in the emergency room observing and recording interactions between nursing personnel and patients. The procedures included following the nursing personnel involved and the patients from the initial contact through the entire treatment process and until time of discharge. During this time every verbal comment made by the patient and/or the nursing personnel was recorded verbatim in a stenographic notebook. The interactions were evaluated by Hays and Larson's criteria of therapeutic and nontherapeutic techniques.

Thirty-five interactions were observed in this study. These interactions involved a professional nurse and a patient in twenty-two nursing situations and a nonprofessional nurse and a patient in their thirteen nursing situations.

The findings of this study revealed that when individual responses were tabulated, there were more therapeutic than nontherapeutic interactions, but when total interactions were considered, half of those involving professional nurses were therapeutic and half were nontherapeutic.

There was no difference in the use of therapeutic and nontherapeutic techniques by professional and nonprofessional nurses by the chi square technique when individual responses were tabulated.

The interpersonal techniques used most frequently in the emergency room were giving information and seeking clarification. The patent's sex, occupation and diagnosis were not related significantly to the use of therapeutic techniques used by professional and nonprofessional personnel in the emergency room.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

Lucile Lewis

Second Advisor

Elizabeth K. Franklin

Third Advisor

Matilda Anabelle Mills

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Emergency Service, Hospital; Interpersonal Relations



Page Count

v; 123

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives

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Nursing Commons