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Emotional labour in the emergency department

Emotional labour in the emergency department: feeling rules, gender stereotypes and emotional stoicism

What we are doing:

This study aimed to explore and understand the concept of emotional labour through the case study of the distinctive emergency department (ED) setting, a largely unexplored area of practice. As part of this, it focused specifically on the likely diverse factors (or moderators) which instrument the frequency, ease and intensity of the emotional labour undertaken by ED nurses. Within this, this research unpacked and explored how the environmental and institutional factors, aesthetic characteristics, organisational dynamics, gender customs, patient population and their expectations influenced the emotional labour done by staff within this environment.

Why we are doing it:

To expand understanding and make both empirical and theoretical contributions to existing knowledge of emotional labour and emotional work. This is through the relevance of the ED context. In addition, the practical applications from this research relate to working environments and also nursing education and practice. Although the ED case study was utilised, the findings are helpful to other healthcare settings, specialities and professionals, along with organisations outside of the healthcare environment. 

What the benefits will be:

In understanding the emotional component of the role and the implications for practice, we can gain insight into the possible interventions and mechanisms that counterbalance the potentially negative effects of emotional labour. This is beneficial as emotional labour is linked to burnout and stress. Rates of stress, burnout and the intention to leave of English nurses are among the highest against other European countries and America. Furthermore, high rates of poor well-being have a direct impact on the quality of care delivered and patient experience.

Who we are working with:

Supervision team: Professor Stephen Timmons, Professor Laurie Cohen and Dr Alison Edgley


Kate Kirk,