The Comfort Of Patients In Traction: A Descriptive Study
This study describ8s the behaviours of patients who were immobilized in traction in a general hospital. Its purpose was to ascertain the relative degrees of comfort or discomfort which these patients had. Comfort was conceptualized as a state of being revvealed through the patients behaviours in two respects: the amount of physical restlessness which he exhibited end the nature of concerns which he expressed. The method used in investigating patients' behaviours was that of direct observation. Data collection was carried out at various times of the day and all patients on one ward who were in traction were observed more than once during the investigation period. The findings revealed the following: 1. Some degrees of physical restlessness existed in all patients and it appeared to have three main components: physical movement, change of focus of activity, and behaviours indicative of pain. 2. Almost without exception these three aspects of restlessness co-varied. That is, continuous physical movement was associated with frequent change of activity and numerous pain behaviours. Conversely, infrequent physical movement, infrequent activity change, and few pain behaviours occurred together. 3. Patients exhibited varying degrees of physical restlessness as described by behaviours related to the above three factors. What was probably some kind of continuum from a very high to a very low degree of restlessness. 4. Patients who were very restless and were therefore in pain gave specific instructions to the nurses about ho· to handle their (Patients') injured limbs. Nurses usually responded to the patients· instructions and patients appeared relieved. 5. Very restless patients appeared to become less restless when they were with their relatives, but this did not seem to occur when they were with others. 6. Patients sought advise from nurses and from fellow patients concerning pain and their treatment. When they received the advice they used it to cope with their pain and discomfort. 7. Very restless patients and younger patients appeared to be concerned with the immediate recovery in hospital, whereas the less restless patients and older patients, with exception of those who were in skeletal traction appeared to be concern with later (ultimate) recovery at home and about their home affairs. On the basis of these findings it was seen that patients in traction experience varying degrees of physical as well as psychological comfort and discomfort. To reduce patients' discomfort would therefore require the nurses to recognise the contributing factors outlined in the study.