Emotional labour and the clinical settings of nursing care: The perspectives of nurses in East London

Benjamin Gray*, Pam Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Emotions in health organisations tend to remain tacit and in need of clarification. Often, emotions are made invisible in nursing and reduced to part and parcel of 'women's work' in the domestic sphere. Smith (Smith, P. 1992. The Emotional Labour of Nursing, Macmillan, London) applied the notion of emotional labour to the study of student nursing, concluding that further research was required. This means investigating what is often seen as a tacit and uncodified skill. A follow-up qualitative study was conducted over a period of twelve months to re-examine the role of emotional labour and in particular the ways in which emotional labour was orientated to different clinical settings. Data were collected from 16 in-depth and semi-structured interviews with nurses based in East London (United Kingdom). Findings illustrate emotional labour in three different settings (primary care, mental health and children's oncology). Findings show the different ways in which emotional labour is used and reflected upon by nurses in these three clinical areas. This is important in improving nurse training and best practice as well as helpful in offering an initial synopsis of the culture of care in nursing; investigating several clinical settings of nurses' emotional labour; looking at changing techniques of patient consultation; and beginning to explore the potential therapeutic value of emotional labour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-261
Number of pages9
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Issue number4
Early online date7 Oct 2008
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • clinical settings
  • emotional labour
  • nursing


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