Nurses' views of patient participation in nursing care

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Abstract

Aims.

To explore nurses' views of patient participation in nursing care on medical wards.

Background.

Nurses have frequent contact with patients, highlighting their potential role in enabling patient participation. However, some nurses' actions and attitudes act as barriers, failing to achieve core requirements of patient participation. Discovering nurses' views may assist in developing strategies to encourage patient participation in hospitals.

Design.

Interpretive study.

Methods.

Twenty nurses were recruited from four medical wards, located in two Australian hospitals. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted between November 2013–March 2014 and analysed using content analysis.

Findings.

Five categories emerged from the nurses' views. The first category, acknowledging patients as partners, showed nurses respected patients as legitimate participants. In the second category, managing risk, nurses emphasized the need to monitor participation to ensure rules and patient safety were maintained. Enabling participation was the third category, which demonstrated nurses' strategies that enhanced patients' participation. The fourth category was hindering participation; encapsulating nurses' difficulty in engaging patients with certain characteristics. In the final category, realizing participation, nurses believed patients could be involved in physical activities or clinical communication.

Conclusion.

Nurses have a crucial role in promoting patient participation. Through acknowledging and enabling participation, nurses may facilitate patient participation in a range of nursing activities. The nurse's role in enacting participation is complex, having to accommodate each patient's risks and characteristics, highlighting the need for good assessment skills. Education, policy and research strategies are essential to foster nurses' pivotal role in patient participation.

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