This review aimed to explore nursing literature and research on dignity in care of inpatients and to evaluate how the care patients received in the hospital setting was related to perceived feelings of being dignified or undignified. Studies conducted between 2000 and 2010 were considered, using Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature and MEDLINE, and the search terms ‘patient dignity’, ‘dignity in care’, ‘human dignity and nursing’ and ‘dignity and nursing ethics’. Findings revealed, from the perspectives of nurses and patients, that dignity in care in the hospital setting is seen to be influenced by physical environment, staff attitude and behaviour, organisational culture and patient independence. This review can help nurses to better understand dignity in care, and for policy makers, there are implications about determining the physical environment, staff attitude and behaviour and organisational culture needed to promote patient dignity in nursing. By identifying the most important factors from patients’ and nurses’ perspectives that contribute to dignity in care, nursing interventions, such as campaigns and education in clinical practice, can be developed.