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The aim of this phenomenological research study carried out in Iran was to capture the meaning of patients' rights from the lived experiences of patients and their companions. To achieve this, 12 semistructured interviews were conducted during 2005 in a teaching hospital in Tehran with patients and/or their companions. In addition, extensive field notes were compiled during the interviews. The data were analyzed using Benner's thematic analysis. The themes captured were classified into three main categories, with certain themes identified within each category. The categories were: (1) the concept of patients' rights; (2) barriers to patients' rights; and (3) facilitators of patients' rights. The distinctive themes within each of the categories were identified as: (1a) receiving real care, (1b) focus on the patient, and (1c) equality and accessibility; (2a) dissatisfaction with caregivers, and (2b) specific work environment limitations; (3a) the patient's companion, (3b) a responsible system, and (3c) the public's awareness of rights. Although certain themes identified closely resemble those identified in international patients' bills of rights, the current study focused on themes that are particularly relevant to the Iranian sociocultural context.

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