The Secret of Quality Is Love: A Qualitative Study Exploring Physician and Nurse Perspectives on What It Means to Love Their Patients

Richard W. Sams, Paul C. Mann, J. Aaron Johnson, Amanda Huels, Tyler Lipscomb, Patrick McLean, Darsani Reddy, Chandler Rountree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Little research systematically explores healthcare professionals' understanding of what it means to love their patients. The authors hypothesized that nurses and physicians would describe a language of love relevant to health care. Researchers conducted structured interviews with 29 physicians and 32 nurses at an academic medical center through a combination of purposive, convenience, and snowball sampling. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using grounded theory, identifying major themes from qualitative data. Most nurses and physicians declared they should love their patients. Characteristics of loving physicians and nurses included caring, clinical excellence, advocating, meeting needs, compassion, sacrifice, and tough love. Moral imperatives included the duty to act on behalf of the patient's best interest, respect the patient's wishes, treat patients as you would want your family treated, and recognize limits of life. Many physicians and nurses commented that loving patients could transform health care. Physicians and nurses described characteristics and imperatives of love that may serve as an ethical standard for healthcare professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages14
JournalNarrative inquiry in bioethics
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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