Purpose: An encounter between Palestinian parents of children with cancer and Israeli medical staff is a very special situation where “potential enemies” interact in a caring, trusting and intimate relationship for long periods of time. Our aim was to study the psychological and cultural encounter in order to understand the dynamics involved.
Method: The study is a qualitative one. Data was collected by way of structured in-depth interviews. Participants were physicians and nurses employed in the department, and Palestinian parents accompanying their children who were hospitalized during the research period.
Results: Six main themes emerged from the analysis of the interviews: (1) The decision to come to Israel for treatment. (2) The “meeting points” of the two peoples: the Israeli check points and the Palestinian Authority permits. (3) Encounter with the Israeli hospital. (4) Relationship between medical staff and parents. (5) Language and cultural barriers. (6) Emotions, thoughts and behaviors during high security tension.
Conclusion: The interviews depict a poignant picture of the unique encounter between Israeli Doctors and nurses and Palestinian parents. The psychological mechanism used by parents and doctors is “splitting”-having a dichotomized, simple emotional-perceptual picture of a situation with no conflicts. Nurses use another psychological mechanism in addition which enables them to contain the paradox and the conflict.
- Pediatric hemato-oncology
- Staff-patient relationship
- War medicine