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Keywords:

  • basic need;
  • comfort;
  • hermeneutics;
  • holistic care;
  • hospitalized patients;
  • nursing;
  • phenomenology;
  • spirituality

Abstract

Title. Comfort as a basic need in hospitalized patients in Iran: a hermeneutic phenomenology study.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study conducted to explore the comfort experiences of hospitalized patients during their admission to medical–surgical wards in an Iranian hospital.

Background.  Comfort has various definitions, ranging from a basic human need, to a process, function or an outcome of nursing. As comfort is a substantive need throughout life in health and illness, providing comfort is a major function and challenge for holistic nursing care.

Method.  This hermeneutic phenomenological study was conducted between July 2006 and April 2007 in six medical–surgical wards of one of a university hospital in Iran. Data were generated with 22 participants (16 hospitalized patients and six nurses), using in-depth interviews to capture their detailed experiences of comfort. Analysis based on the framework of Diekelmann enabled data interpretation and elaboration of shared themes.

Findings.  One constitutive pattern, ‘Comfort: a need of hospitalized patients’ and four related themes – A friend in hospital, Relief of suffering within a calm environment, Seeking God, and Presence among family – were identified in the data.

Conclusion.  These findings offer unique insight for planning and implementing appropriate clinical practices in Iran, especially in caring for Muslim patients. Two major implications are to: (1) consider comfort criteria during nursing assessment and planning of care during a patient’s hospitalization and (2) note that Shiite people in particular are more comfortable and feel better when they are able to follow their religious principles.