A qualitative exploration of emotional expression for healthcare professionals working within end-of-life

Richardson, Laura-Jayne and Fletcher, Ian (2020) A qualitative exploration of emotional expression for healthcare professionals working within end-of-life. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis consists of a systematic literature review, empirical paper, and critical appraisal. The literature review is a qualitative synthesis of emotional labour experiences for healthcare professionals working within end-of-life. Although previously explored within healthcare, it has not been considered within an end-of-life context. A meta-ethnography was completed to synthesise 18 qualitative studies that met the inclusion criteria. Five concepts were identified: The continuum of emotional expression; Being vulnerable to triggers; The dual-purpose; The emotional impact; and Building resilience. Findings suggest that healthcare professionals use emotional labour to align themselves with the expectations of their role. Recommendations for increased awareness and support (both formal and informal) are provided. The important role of the organisation in promoting a normalising and accepting culture has been highlighted. The empirical paper considered the qualitative experiences of therapist crying in therapy for 10 psychological therapists working within end-of-life. Five clinical psychologists and five counsellors took part. Semi-structured interviews were completed and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse these accounts. Three superordinate themes emerged: The role of the therapist; Being struck by emotion; and The balancing act. The findings indicate that crying in therapy can be therapeutic under some circumstances, as it can demonstrate therapist authenticity, the significance of an experience, and model a healthy response to emotion. Increasing therapist self-awareness may help to reduce over-empathising, that can lead to crying. Discussions about the therapist’s tears are important and may help to normalise experiences. This critical appraisal provides a reflective account of my research journey. It considers decisions made at various time-points during the research process, and the rationale for these. I considered the challenges I faced during the process, and how these were addressed. My experience of conducting research within an end-of-life context is considered throughout, and links to clinical practice are made.

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Thesis (PhD)
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25 Mar 2020 11:35
Last Modified:
05 Jun 2024 23:43