Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Rosalind M. Peters


Research has shown that preoperative stress is associated with poorer health outcomes in adults and young children, but there is little in the literature about the stress experienced by adolescents. Clinical experience, however, has shown that adolescents behave differently throughout the perioperative experience than either adults or children. For example, common behaviors of adolescent's emerging from anesthesia include combativeness, thrashing, and crying. To promote adolescent health and to provide adolescents with appropriate interventions that will support a positive surgical outcome, research is needed to discover the perceptions and meanings adolescents attribute to the perioperative experience.

The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to describe and capture the meaning of perioperative experiences of adolescents. The research question for this study was "What is the meaning of the perioperative experience to adolescents?" Max van Manen's phenomenological approach especially guided uncovering the descriptions of the meanings provided by the participants through the lifeworld: lived body, lived relation, lived space, and lived time. Although the lifeworld provided a way to interpret the perioperative experience, the Neuman Systems Model (NSM) allowed for further exploration of the perioperative experience.

Nine female adolescents, ages 18 to 20 years, undergoing a surgical procedure were interviewed twice: once preoperative and once postoperative. The themes for the perioperative experience of adolescents' were "I knew that..." and feelings of apprehension for the preoperative experience. Following the surgical procedure, themes gleaned from the postoperative stories were "not as bad as I thought", concern, and "I needed my mom." What the stories told was that much like adults and children, the overall perioperative experience was stressful for the adolescent. However, the developmental concerns unique to adolescents added another layer to the meaning of this experience. Specifically, issues with autonomy and loss of control were gleaned from the stories shared by the adolescent about their perioperative experience.

This study is significant because it generated new knowledge that could facilitate development of interventions specific to the needs and concerns of adolescents undergoing a surgical procedure. It is unique as it is one of the few studies that explored the preoperative experience through the voices of adolescents and compared and contrasted the preoperative and postoperative experiences.

Included in

Nursing Commons