Working under pressure: a pilot study of nurse work in a postoperative setting. Academic Article uri icon


  • Postoperative services provide an excellent setting to study nursing work due to the patients' needing highly technical, yet highly comforting, care. The current study examined nursing work in postoperative services in an attempt to discern how nursing work is structured. Observations of nursing interactions in a 14-bed postoperative unit of a large Swedish university hospital found that nursing work in this setting is highly intensive and multidimensional. The need to provide nursing interactions that are caring and respectful of patients, while at the same time ensuring a high level of technical capacity, was obvious throughout all stages of patient stays in this unit. Furthermore, although each interaction is necessarily time-limited there is a caring relationship sustained with each patient. There is a pattern of caring that emerges that can be encapsulated as a "contingent routine." Nursing work cannot be broken down into "dimensions of caring." The work is high-pressure and involves, by necessity, multitasking. There are many dimensions of nursing care, but, usually, these are supplied simultaneously.


  • Willis, K
  • Brown, CR
  • Sahlin, I
  • Svensson, B
  • Arnetz, BB
  • Arnetz, JE

publication date

  • January 1, 2005

has subject area