Coaching patients to self-care: a primary responsibility of nursing

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pryor j. (2009)International Journal of Older People Nursing Coaching patients to self-care: a primary responsibility of nursing. International Journal of Older People Nursing4, 79–88


To explore the process nurses use to guide and support patients to actively re-establish self-care.


The movement of hospitalized patients from less to more independence is primarily a nursing responsibility. Studies of nursing practice in inpatient rehabilitation settings have begun to shed some light on this, but as yet there is limited understanding of the actual skills nurses use to support patients to re-establish self-care.


This study used grounded theory. Microanalysis and constant comparative analysis of data collected during interviews with, and observation of, registered and enrolled nurses during everyday nursing practice in five inpatient rehabilitation units facilitated open, axial and selective coding. Relevant literature was woven into the final theory.


To facilitate patient transition from the role of acute care patient to rehabilitation patient actively reclaiming self-care, nurses engaged in a three-phase process known as coaching patients to self-care. The three phases were: easing patients into rehabilitation, maximizing patient effort and providing graduated assistance.


Coaching patients to self-care is a primary activity and technology of rehabilitation nursing.

Relevance to clinical practice.

Patients in a variety of settings would benefit from nurses incorporating coaching skills into their nurse–patient interactions.

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