"Taking Care of Hopes and Dreams in a Plastic Box" The emotional labor of a nurse when communicating with parents in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Erica J. Moser, The College of Wooster


This thesis attempts to explore the emotional labor that a nurse performs when she is communicating with NICU parents. This is original exploratory research. Besides the medical duties that are required of nurses, they provide emotional labor. The nurses perform emotional labor by consoling, educating and listening to the parents. I use the work of Arlie Hochschild (1983) as a basis for explaining the emotional labor that nurses perform when communicating with parents. In order to obtain the data for this study, I interviewed 14 NICU nurses and observed the unit of the children's hospital and the NICU nurses. These interviews and observations allowed me to better understand and portray the emotional labor that nurses perform. I will use Hochschild theory of emotional labor to explain the data. The data that I obtained demonstrated that nurses perform emotional work when communicating with parents. More research is needed to further explore the topic.


© Copyright 1999 Erica J. Moser