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Military Nurses' Experience in Disaster Response

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Final rept. 1 Jun 2008-30 Jun 2010

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The purpose of this study was to understand the essence of military nurses lived experience of responding to disasters. Specific aims were to explore experiences of military nurses who had been deployed into disaster environments and to examine the impact the disaster responses had on their lives. A phenomenological approach grounded in the existential phenomenological works of Merleau-Ponty guided the study. Using purposive, snowballing technique and e-mailed information flyers, single face-to-face interviews lasting 27 to 70 minutes were conducted and digitally recorded, and the recordings were professionally transcribed. Twenty-three nurses from the United States Air Force, Army, Navy, and U.S. Public Health Service participated in the study. Line-by-line analysis was completed by employing hermeneutics to identify key words, phrases, and themes that described the essence of the experience. The process sought to identify specific meaning in parts of each transcript related to the complete document and across all transcripts illuminating their experience. Five polar themes and one additional theme emerged from the data Nature of War versus Nature of Disaster,Known versus Unknown,Structured versus Chaos, Prepared versus Making Do, Strength versus Emotionality, and Existential Growth. Outcomes of the study indicated that disaster training should become part of core nursing curriculum, military training should encompass disaster preparedness, military nurses need instruction in dealing with media during crises, and psychological support teams should be included in disaster deployments. Nurses who have deployed to disasters need time to reintegrate into their jobs and communities. This study draws attention to the need for better pre-deployment disaster training and preparedness. It also identifies the need for psychological support during and after disaster responses to help the military better care for its health care providers.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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