Patient participation in nursing care: an interpretation by Swedish Registered Nurses


  • Monika JM Sahlsten MSc, RN,

  • Inga E Larsson MSc, RN,

  • Catharina SC Lindencrona Dr Med Sc, MS, RNT,

  • Kaety AE Plos PhD, BSc

Monika Sahlsten
Granvägen 12
SE-468 30 Vargön Sweden
Telephone: +46 (0)521 220072 or +46 (0)707 571041


Aims and objectives.  The aim of this study was to clarify Registered Nurses’ understanding of patient participation in nursing care. Objectives were to investigate ward nurses’ interpretation of the elements of patient participation and its implementation.

Background.  One goal of health care is patient participation. Registered Nurses must encourage the participation of their patients in nursing care situations. A right for patients to make their own informed choices is laid down in Swedish laws and national and local directives. The concept of patient participation can be interpreted differently and is thus difficult to implement and evaluate. Current nursing literature provides little clarity of the elements and processes of patient participation and conceptual definitions differ.

Design and methods.  A qualitative approach was applied and the Grounded Theory method used. Thirty-one Registered Swedish Nurses described the meaning of patient participation and its implementation in nursing care. Seven focus group interviews with nurses providing inpatient somatic care were carried out in five hospitals in west Sweden.

Results.  Four properties, describing nurses’ approaches and procedures, constitute patient participation. The properties are: interpersonal procedure, therapeutic approach, focus on resources, opportunities for influence. These properties were considered crucial for patient participation in a nursing care context.

Conclusions and relevance to clinical practice.  The results clarify the concept of patient participation from a nursing perspective. A comprehensive description of important factors for patient participation could be made on the basis of nursing experience. This comprehensive description can be used in nursing care practice and its evaluation. The developed categories can be used in nursing care documentation of how patient participation is realized.