Relationships in research

The nurse-patient relationship is one of compassion and goal setting. A researcher-participant relationship is study-focused, with the goal of reducing outside influences that can skew the results. The nurse-patient relationship and the researcher-participant relationship are alike since they are both founded on ethical principles such as autonomy, justice, beneficence, veracity, etc. They are also similar in that both relationships have the intent that the patient/participant will ultimately benefit from the interaction. Furthermore, they share the trait of conducting all contacts between the two individuals in a professional manner.

However, the nurse-patient relationship and the researcher-participant relationship are also different, because the link between the nurse and the patient is more long-term. Especially in the instance of a nurse who is caring for patients with chronic illnesses, rather than the researcher-participant relationship, which is only transient and usually only lasts for the duration of the research. Where the nurse-patient relationship also differ from the researcher-participant relationship is that, in the former, the nurse’s role is to be a caregiver. The nurse may display loving behaviors such as therapeutic touch in this function. “Therapeutic touch allows nurses to facilitate healing ad forge therapeutic relationships through touch” (Doherty et al., 2006). Therapeutic touch would not be a suitable conduct between a nurse researcher and a study participant since it could be misinterpreted by the study participant to persuade them to engage in the study.

Finally, the nurse-patient relationship is dynamic and ever-changing as conditions and treatments vary, whereas the researcher-participant relationship is linear and aligned with the study’s goals.



Doherty, D, Wright, S, & Aveyard, B (2006, December). Therapeutic touch and dementia care: an ongoing journey.

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Nurse-Patient and Researcher-Participant Relationships



Thank you for your very informative post. I quite agree with you that the Nurse-patient and researcher-participant relationships, both share similarities and differences in equal measure. For the similarities, they can both be exercised through participation of a nurse and a patient, whom can still take the nature of the researcher and participants respectively to fit both situations. Similarly, they both follow certain established principles, where both the nurse and the researcher should adhere to ethical elements when exercising the relationships. In this regard, I quite agree with you that the ethical principles such as autonomy, justice, beneficence, as well as veracity are applicable in both relationships and thus sharing a common ground in the process of their execution.

Nevertheless, I also find a profound difference on both of these relationships. For the nurse-patient relationship, I view it as a ‘freelance’ relationship where there exists a lot of adjustments and flexibilities, especially depending on the existing clinical situation or the nature of the patient (Kwame & Petrucka, 2021). On the other hand, researcher-participant relationship seems to be fixed and must attain certain laid down guidelines for it to qualify as such. While both relationships may be exercised in a clinical situation such as during palliative care, it may be difficult for a qualified nursing professional taking the role of a researcher to separate themselves from the nurse-patient relationship due to the ethical obligations that bestows them to always exercise due diligence and ensure no harm for the patient or the participant (Knight, 2019). In such instances, the nurse may be required to fully apply their knowledge and skills to meet the patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs regardless of which relationship is being exercised.


Knight, J. (2019). The need for improved ethics guidelines in a changing research landscape.

South African Journal of Science, 115(11), 13-15. doi:

Kwame, A., & Petrucka, P. M. (2021). A literature-based study of patient-centered care and

communication in nurse-patient interactions: Barriers, facilitators, and the way forward. BMC Nursing, 20, 1-10. doi: