The Experience of Presence Among Telehealth Nurses

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Abstract

Background:

Telehealth technology allows for the provision of nursing care even when the patient and nurse are physically separated from each other. Telehealth has shown positive effects on healthcare costs and healthcare access. Although it can increase healthcare access and decrease healthcare costs, the use of telehealth has altered the typical pattern of nurse–patient proximity. It is unknown how the physical separation related to telehealth use may affect the experience of presence among nurses during nurse–patient interactions.

Purpose:

The purpose of the research was to gain knowledge about the ways that nurses experience presence during interactions with patients using telehealth technology.

Methods:

A qualitative descriptive design with convenience sampling was used for this study. Sample inclusion criteria included being a registered nurse with at least 1 year of experience using telehealth technology and working in telehealth at the time of the study. Institutional review board approval was received before beginning data collection. Participants (n = 6) provided informed consent. Qualitative data were obtained by individual, audiotaped, semistructured interviews. The data were transcribed and analyzed deductively for the existence of presence. Ethnograph version 6.0 software was used to assist in organizing and analyzing the data.

Results:

Two examples of presence during telehealth nurse–patient interactions were described by participants.

Conclusion:

This study documented for the first time the experience of presence among nurses who interact with their patients using only nonvideo telehealth technology.

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