The purpose of this paper is to investigate how nurses’ working in emergency health care in Sweden experience their encounter with undocumented migrants.
A total of 16 qualitative interviews were conducted and analyzed using a phenomenographic approach, aiming at describing various ways in which nurses experienced undocumentedness.
The process of assessment involves formal regulations as well as interpersonal features, leading to uncertainty, conflicts and dilemmas when judging such situations. Nurses’ conceptions concerned the undocumented migrants’ migrant status and social existence; second, conflicts in encountering undocumentedness pertaining to an identification systems and judgments and emotional reactions; and thrid, shifts within and between arbitrary boundaries, with unclear conditions for interaction and creative maneuvering.
Further research is needed to develop guidelines or other structures to support nurses who deal with this kind of assessment in their daily work, to reduce ethical dilemmas and the risk of inequitable treatment.
Guidelines to support nurses need to be further debated and discussed and implemented in health care education, as well as in clinical contexts.
Increased knowledge and awareness among nurses concerning migrants’ status and rights, might lead to better working conditions for nurses and thus more secure judgments.
Research with a specific focus on emergency nurses’ conceptions of undocumentedness and their strategies for handling the ensuing practical and ethical dilemmas has not been conducted in Sweden before using a qualitative method.
Gullberg, F. and Wihlborg, M. (2014), "Nurses’ experiences of encountering undocumented migrants in Swedish emergency healthcare", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 148-158. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-08-2013-0027Download as .RIS
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