Dependency as disadvantage – patients' experiences


Bodil Ellefsen, Institute of Nursing Science, University of Oslo, P.B. 1120, Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway. E-mail:


Dependency as disadvantage – patients' experiences

This is an empirical qualitative study of the dependent community patient. The investigation raises the question of what it is like to be a highly dependent patient and how they relate to the situation. A non-probability, volunteer sample was selected from home nursing patients in a large town in Norway. The data were collected through in-depth interviews with 15 patients in their home using a semistructured interview guide. A constant comparative approach was used for analysing data. The results show that dependency has disadvantages like constraints and burdens in daily life. The patient adjusts both in a reactive and proactive way. The constraints are apparent through reduced autonomy in daily life and limited possibilities for negotiation. The burden is demonstrated through uncertainty within the encounter situation, low esteem, and loss of privacy. Adjustment is made through planning, guidance of the carer, acceptance of the situation, positive self-image and by protection of family and carer, and placing blame on the bureaucracy. The patient reacts in a more passive, reactive way regarding circumstances connected to the health care system and in a more proactive way by trying to influence the situation in the interaction in the private sphere of the patient's home.