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Grounded theory
Women's experience of abuse in a healthcare setting reveals preceding loss of power struggles, with sensitivity and dependency making them vulnerable to staff domination
  1. Zane R Wolf
  1. Nursing Programs, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to : Dr Zane R Wolf, Nursing Programs, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, La Salle University, 1900 West Olney Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141, USA; wolf{at}

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Implications for practice and research

  • Nurses and other healthcare providers should consider power struggles with patients as an everyday occurrence and reflect on changing culturally learned behaviours.

  • Patients receiving healthcare services across all settings need to be assumed to be vulnerable.

  • Research is warranted on behaviours demonstrated by healthcare providers that patients perceive as dominant techniques.

  • Future research could address what happens if patients win power struggles with healthcare providers.

  • Healthcare providers’ perceptions of ‘difficult patients’ need exploring further.


The purpose of this study was to describe patients’ reports of contributors to their experiences of abuse in healthcare. The investigators hoped to gain more knowledge of the occurrence and prevention of abuse in healthcare and …

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  • Competing interests None.