Surgical nurses’ responses to worry: A qualitative focus-group study in the Netherlands

F. B.A.L. Peerboom*, T. B. Hafsteinsdóttir, S. W. Weldam, L. Schoonhoven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Hospital nurses observe and respond to deterioration using the ‘National Early Warning Score 2’. Surgical nurses are highly engaged in the early recognition of and response to deterioration. Responses to deterioration are based on deviating vital signs, while nurses also act on subjective indicators like worry. Scientific literature and (inter)national guidelines do not mention any information about acting upon worry. Objective: To gain an in-depth understanding of the actions nurses on surgical wards undertake to generate an appropriate response to nurses’ worry when the ‘National Early Warning Score 2’ does not indicate deterioration. Method: A qualitative focus-group study with surgical nurses working at a hospital in the Netherlands. Data was collected by focus-group interviews supported by vignettes and analysed thematically. Findings: Four focus-group interviews with a total of 20 participants were conducted between February and April 2020. Two sequential themes emerged: ‘Searching for explanation and confirmation’ and ‘Responding by actively applying nursing interventions’. Nurses gathered additional information about the patient and searched for a reference point to place this information in perspective. Nurses also approached others for co-assessment and verification. However, nurses faced barriers in calling for medical assistance. They felt physicians did not take them seriously. After gathering additional information, nurses responded by applying nursing interventions to comfort the patient. Conclusion: Nurses mainly try to formalise an in-depth understanding of their feeling of worry to convince a physician to accurately treat the patient. Spending much time on a search to this understanding leads to delays in escalating care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103231
Pages (from-to)1-6
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Nurses
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital
  • Qualitative Research
  • Vital Signs


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