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Keywords:

  • ethnography;
  • main events;
  • patient satisfaction;
  • perception of care

Aim.  To explore nurses’ and patients’ perceptions of care during main events of hospitalisation.

Background.  Main events during hospitalisation such as admission, transfer to the operation room and preparation for discharge have been identified as times when there is significant patient–caregiver interaction. It is during these interactions that there is an opportunity for the nurse to have a positive influence on the patient’s satisfaction with care. The patient’s perception of care has been studied but not qualitatively. Perceptions of care from the nurses’ perspectives have not been well studied. This study explored the patient’s perception of care as well as the nurse’s perception of the care he provided.

Design.  This study used an ethnographic methodology that included participant observation and unstructured interviews.

Method.  The research was conducted in two phases. First, participant observation was chosen to observe and understand nurse–patient and nurse–family behaviour. The second phase was an unstructured interview to elicit both the patient’s and the nurse’s views about the care experience.

Results.  Two major findings were the patient and the nurse had different perceptions of the care experience and the presence of family or a support person influenced the patient’s perception of care.

Conclusion.  The use of ethnography proved to be a valuable methodology for studying the interactions of patients, families and nurses. Qualitative methods such as ethnography can yield significant findings on perceptions that are unable to be gleaned by traditional quantitative methods but can serve to provide hypotheses for further study.

Relevance to clinical practice.  This study suggests that to maintain quality and patient satisfaction scores, hospitals will need to focus on the difference between the perceived care given and the perceived care received particularly during main events. The role of families and visitors supports positive perceptions of care.