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Keywords:

  • day surgery;
  • grounded theory;
  • nurse–patient interaction;
  • patient experiences;
  • therapeutic relationships

Aim.  To explore patients’ experiences of day surgery.

Background.  Therapeutic relationships are considered to be a core dimension of nursing care. However, in modern health care with short hospital stays the formation of these relationships may be impeded. A major theme to emerge from this study was the development of therapeutic relationships in the day surgery setting.

Design.  The Glaserian method of Grounded Theory was used.

Methodology.  Semi-structured interviews with 145 patients took place from 2004–2006 in two-day surgery units in the UK. Analysis involved transcriptions of interviews and memos. Lists of key words and phrases were made and constantly compared until core categories emerged.

Results.  Patients spoke highly of the relationships they developed with nurses during their stay in the day surgery unit. Analysis of the data revealed the core category of therapeutic relationships and four sub core categories: ‘presence’, ‘extra special’, ‘befriending’ and ‘comfort-giving.’

Conclusion.  This paper adds to the growing body of literature which demonstrates that therapeutic relationships can be developed within the short stay arena of health care: routine interactions which may not be considered to be significant by nurses may be of importance to patients. The patients in this study felt supported, comforted and befriended by day surgery nurses. However a minority of patients were disappointed with the nursing staffs’ lack of interpersonal responses to their needs.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that personnel working within day surgery are not always aware of their therapeutic potential. Therefore raising awareness of this through research generated from patients’ experiences might encourage nurses to further realise their capabilities in this fundamental area of nursing.