Nurses’ Experiences Empowering Hospitalized Patients

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Four focus groups were conducted to explore acute care nurses’ experiences empowering patients and the facilitators and barriers they encountered during the process. Thirty-four nurses employed at four hospitals in the Midwestern United States participated in the study between February and April 2015. Facilitators of empowerment included establishing a therapeutic relationship, fostering communication, providing education, respecting patient autonomy, engaging support systems, and lifting spirit/giving hope. Barriers included conflicting information about plans of care, lack of time, fear and anxiety over unfamiliar environments and routines, ineffective or inadequate support systems, lack of/low accountability, and killing the soul. Nurses also described innovative strategies they used to overcome the barriers. The development of future inpatient empowerment interventions needs to focus on the innovative strategies nurses used to overcome barriers in addition to considering the facilitators and barriers to empowerment that nurses identified.

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