Collaboration between relatives of elderly patients and nurses and its relation to satisfaction with the hospital care trajectory

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Abstract

Background

Relatives are often involved in the care of frail elderly patients prior to admission and are thus important collaborative partners for nurses. They hold valuable knowledge, which may improve care planning for the benefit of the patient and the hospital care trajectory. Satisfaction among relatives may be an indicator of this.

Aim

To investigate collaboration between relatives and nurses among those relatives reporting high versus low satisfaction with the hospital care trajectory. Further, the aim was to investigate the relationship between satisfaction with the hospital care trajectory and (i) participants' characteristics and (ii) the dimensions of collaboration.

Sample

Relatives of elderly patients (n = 156) in acute hospital wards. Women constituted 74.8%, adult children 63.9% and spouses 20% of the participants. Mean age was 60.78 (SD 11.99).

Design

Cross-sectional, comparative, analytical.

Method

A self-report, structured questionnaire covering attributes, prerequisites, outcome and barriers/promoters for collaboration. Respondents reporting high versus low satisfaction were compared with regards to characteristics and mean scores in dimensions of collaboration. Multivariate logistic regression analyses examined predictors for satisfaction with the hospital care trajectory.

Findings

Low satisfaction was significantly related to low level of collaboration. Other predictors for low satisfaction were: feelings of guilt and powerlessness, having provided help for less than a year and not providing psychosocial help.

Conclusion

Satisfaction with care as a hypothesized outcome of collaboration was supported in this study. Hitherto, research has mainly focussed on relatives as potential clients; this study has focussed on relatives as competent collaborative partners in care. A new role for relatives as partners in decision-making rather than passive recipients of information is indicated for the benefit of care quality. Further, increased collaboration between relatives and nurses, assigning relatives' influence, may reduce their powerlessness and guilt and thereby indirectly increase their satisfaction.

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