Individualized nursing care: an empirically generated definition


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Abstract

Individualization is considered a particularly important feature of nursing care by nurses, patients and their families, and by health care administrators. Descriptions in the literature suggest that individualized care requires some background knowledge of the patient, which nurses use to devise care plans that treat each patient as unique. However, few research-based descriptions of individualized care exist. The purpose of this article was to offer a definition of individualized nursing care synthesized from research findings. Descriptions of nursing care individualization emerged from two previously conducted grounded theory studies of nursing practice. Data relevant to the concept were retrieved from each study. These data were compared and contrasted in order to identify and describe individualized care from the perspectives of nurses and patients. The analysis resulted in a definition of individualized nursing care that makes explicit the characteristics of such care, thus providing a framework for designing and evaluating nursing care that recognizes patients as unique persons.

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