Patient participation: its meaning and significance in the context of caring


Dr P D Ashworth School of Health and Community Studies, Sheffield Hallam University, 36 Collegiate Crescent, Sheffield S10 2BP, England


The ideal that patients should be participants in their own care has found wide acceptance amongst nurses Yet within the academic discipline of nursing little has been done to clarify the nature of participation In this paper, a phenomenology of participation is presented as it applies to the caring work of nursing Participation requires (a) attunement to a mutual 'stock of knowledge at hand’, (b) emotional and motivational attunement to the other's concerns, (c) taking for granted (and implicitly assuming the other takes it for granted) that one can contribute worthily, (d) feeling that one's identity is not under threat Though it is difficult to attain, participation appears to embody many of the ideals central to current thinking in nursing Moreover, the attempt to build participatory relationships with patients is ethically required of members of a‘caring’ profession