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Keywords:

  • health care professional;
  • encounter;
  • communication;
  • suffering;
  • qualitative methodology;
  • patient;
  • phenomenography

A description of health care professionals’ experiences of encounters with patients in clinical settings

The aim of this study was to describe health care professionals’ way of experiencing their encounters with in- or outpatients, while working in acute medical care hospitals. One main question was addressed: What are the experiences which health care professionals have of their encounters with in- or outpatients in clinical settings? Eleven health care professionals (physicians, registered nurses and enrolled nurses) were interviewed and a phenomenographic approach was used, where data were analysed qualitatively. The results indicate that the health care professionals’ way of experiencing their encounters with patients in acute medical care hospitals could be separated into three categories of description: a gain in personal knowledge and understanding of the patients’ different ‘ways’ of communicating experienced suffering; making the patient feel confident and; focusing on the medical problems, not understanding the patient’s different ‘ways’ of communicating their experienced suffering. The first two categories of description showed encounters where the health care professionals felt that they could understand the patients’ expressions of suffering. The third showed encounters where the health care professionals experienced difficulty in understanding the patients’ expressions of suffering. There is a need therefore to support health care professionals in improving their understanding of patients’ suffering.