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Patients felt greater personal control and emotional comfort in hospital when they felt secure, informed, and valuedCommentary

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A M Williams

Dr A M Williams, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia; anne.williams@curtin.edu.au

QUESTION

What aspects of the hospital environment affect patients’ feelings of personal control and emotional comfort?

DESIGN

Qualitative study using the grounded theory method.

SETTING

Hospitals in Perth, Western Australia.

PARTICIPANTS

56 patients >18 years of age (median age range 54–64 y, 59% women) who had been admitted to hospital for any episode of illness and could converse in English.

METHODS

Data were collected through 78 hours of field observation and semistructured interviews with patients. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed thematically using the constant comparative method.

MAIN FINDINGS

Patients identified 3 conditions of the hospital environment that affected their feelings of personal control and emotional comfort. (1) Level of security. Patients’ feelings of personal control increased when assistance was available to help them do things they could not do by themselves; they felt insecure and experienced emotional discomfort when assistance was lacking. One patient described being afraid of injury and feeling insecure when he could not get assistance to fix a broken bed. …

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