Social Exchange Theory and Nurse-Patient Relation
The first assumption of the Social Exchange Theory (SET) is an exchange activity involving rewards and costs. The second assumption states that individuals usually seek to maximize benefits, while attempting to lessen the costs. Finally, human beings are self-centered, and will often strive to satisfy their needs first. The core components of this theory include outcome and comparison level of possible worthy alternatives. This implies that individuals tend to establish and continue their social relations based on their expectations that it will be mutually rewarding (Neufeld and Harrison 10-11).
These assumptions can significantly affect the nurse-patient relations. A patient who appreciates the efforts of his/her nurse will possibly receive better health care services as a form of reciprocity. This will improve the nurse-patient relation to higher levels as the expectation of each continues to rise. Lack of appropriate rewards will trigger a reverse effect where their relationship will continue to deteriorate. However, it has been practically established that the patient’s expectation is normally more demanding compared with those of nurses, thereby introducing an imbalance in rewards. The exchange imbalance that causes burnout in nurses mainly results from the patient’s difficult patient problems, and their higher emotional demands. The nurse may also experience burnout as they dedicate most of their time providing direct care to patients, some of whom have very poor prognosis. Consequential ethics and the ethical principles of deontology are largely ethical if they can contribute to the well-being of the patient who is experiencing more suffering. SET is not quite compatible with the values of the nursing profession since the patients are more dependent on nurses, and have little rewards to offer nurses in exchange. In the nursing profession, nurses are obliged to serve and foster positive relations with their patients regardless of the situation (Kim 145-146).
Kim, Hesook S. The Nature of Theoretical Thinking in Nursing. New York: Springer Pub. Co, 2010. Print.
Neufeld, Anne, and Margaret J. Harrison. Nursing and Family Caregiving: Social Support and Nonsupport. New York: Springer Pub, 2010. Print.