Exploring the perceptions of nursing students and nursing academic lecturers on the use of gallows humour in the clinical setting.
Past research on gallows humour in a healthcare context has generally focused on justifying its use by healthcare professionals during stressful situations as a temporary relief from the tragedy that is occurring. Some previous research takes the alternate view that the use of gallows humour, regardless of the reason, is unacceptable in any situation. Most research has focused on the response of nurses and doctors with a small amount looking at the perceptions of medical students. There is currently no research that reflects how undergraduate nurses view the use of gallows humour in the clinical environment or how they deal with their feelings relating to gallows humour. In fact there is little literature that examines how nursing students cope with the tragedy that can occur in the clinical area or how nursing educators can help student nurses cope with the stressors they experience in clinical placements. This research aims to investigate the perceptions of students enrolled in any of the three years of an undergraduate nursing degree programme. The research was also triangulated as it correspondingly included the nurse lecturers who are in charge of the teaching and learning for students. The purpose behind including lecturers was to compare their results with students and determine if there were differences in perception between those with a vast amount of clinical experience as compared to those who were just beginning. The research is informed by pragmatism, which considers views from two perspectives, in this case students and nurse lecturers. Given the differences in clinical experience between participants, pragmatism gives the research a more balanced overview of the perspectives of nurses in the clinical area. Data was collected using an online questionnaire. Although the questions for each group were broadly similar there were slight differences incorporated to accommodate the differences in clinical experience. Responses from 55 students and 10 lecturers were considered. A thematic analysis revealed some similarities between students and lecturers in that some students agreed with the nurse lecturers that gallows humour is not offensive if used appropriately for stress relief and coping. The biggest differences came between students. Generally older students believed they were more able to speak up if offended by the humour used whereas younger students did not feel like speaking up was an option for them. However students in year three, the final year of the degree programme, felt less empowered to speak out regarding gallows humour if offended. These students felt that speaking up would make them stand out for negative reasons which they considered could impact on their chances of securing employment once they pass and become registered. These findings can contribute to the current literature by adding perspectives from both nursing students and nurse lecturers with clinical experience, something that was missing from the current literature. This research also highlighted some issues student nurses have with the use gallows humour. The research also highlighted how students in their last year of undergraduate nursing school feel especially vulnerable in regards to the clinical experience and how important they think it is for them to be seen positively. This was the major factor determining whether or not students felt they would speak up if offended by the use of gallows humour.
Advisor: Pickering, Neil; Anderson, Lynley
Degree Name: Master of Health Sciences
Degree Discipline: Bioethics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Gallows; humour; humor; nurses; students; mixed; methods
Research Type: Thesis