Quality of Life Awareness and Effect on Critical Care Nursing Interventions With Persons With Tetraplegia

Elaine Frances Rohlik, Walden University


Traumatic spinal cord injury with tetraplegia (SCI/T) is considered by health care professionals to be one of the most physically and emotionally challenging injuries to sustain. Literature indicates that a disparity exists between health care professionals' perceptions of quality of life (QOL) among those with SCI/T versus the perceptions of those living with SCI/T. The purpose of this quantitative research project was to determine whether a disparity existed in critical-care nurse perceptions of QOL with SCI/T and to determine whether associations existed in the nurse-patient relationship and clinical interventions among this population. QOL, disability, interpersonal relations in nursing and deliberative nursing process provided the theoretical foundation for the study. A sample size of 104 critical-care nurses participated in this quantitative, cross-sectional survey. This study confirmed that a disparity existed between critical-care nurse perceptions of QOL of those living with SCI/T (M = 13.70) versus the published mean for those living with SCI/T (M = 20.9, t (96) = −13.42, p < .001). Correlation analysis did not indicate that this disparity affected the participants attitudes, interventions, and nurse-patient relationship to a significant degree. Awareness of this disparity may have a positive effect on improving the nurse-patient relationship and clinical interventions in working with this population and may ultimately improve patient clinical outcomes, psychological outcomes, decision-making, and long-term QOL for their patients with SCI/T. The findings and reported literature provided an evidence base for nurses in providing hope and resources to dispel myths and misperceptions of QOL commonly found among patients, families, and health care providers.