Exploring the Strengths of Patients With Psychiatric Disorders: A Qualitative Study

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Professional nurses typically pay significantly more attention to the weaknesses rather than strengths of their psychiatric patients. Thus, new approaches to care are needed to discover the strengths of these patients and to provide effective encouragement during the caring process. However, little is currently known regarding the strengths that psychiatric patients possess during their illness and healing.


The current study aimed to explore the self-perceptions and experiences of psychiatric patients regarding their strengths.


Psychiatric patients were recruited through purposive sampling in Isfahan, Iran, from July to December 2012. Variables such as age, gender, and diagnosis were used to vet potential participants to ensure adequate sample diversity. All of the qualified individuals were informed verbally and in writing regarding the information that they would be asked to provide during the interview process, and the researchers obtained written and oral informed consent from each before enrolment. Twenty-one semistructured, qualitative interviews were conducted, and content analysis was performed to identify the themes.


Four major themes emerged from the interviews, including (a) life with spiritual factors, (b) responsibility, (c) love of learning, and (d) sources of support.


A repertoire of strengths was identified among the participants. Furthermore, all of the participants voiced the opinion that healthcare providers rarely focused on their strengths. Therefore, mental health professionals, particularly nurses, should pay closer attention to the strengths of their psychiatric patients to use these strengths in advancing their care.

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