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Maintainance of patients' dignity during hospitalization: Comparison of staff–patient observations and patient feedback through interviews

Authors

  • Amanda Henderson BSc MScSoc PhD RN RM GradDipNurse (Educ),

    Corresponding author
    1. Professor, Griffith Health, Griffith University, and Nursing Director (Education), Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba, Queensland, Australia
      Amanda Henderson, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Nursing Education, Ipswich Road, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, QLD 4102, Australia. Email: Amanda_henderson@health.qld.gov.au
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  • Mary Ann Van Eps BN MN RN RM DipAppSc (NursEd),

    1. Nurse Educator, Service Improvement, Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Nathan, Queensland, Australia
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  • Kate Pearson BNurs (Admin) MN RN GradCertSocSc (Hlth),

    1. Nursing Director, Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Nathan, Queensland, Australia
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  • Catherine James BA MBA RN DipAppSc (CommNurs),

    1. Director of Nursing, Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Nathan, Queensland, Australia
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  • Peter Henderson BSc MN RN RM GradDipEduc,

    1. Casual Lecturer, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
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  • Yvonne Osborne EM EdD RN

    1. Lecturer, Nursing, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia
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  • Kate Pearson is currently the Assistant Nursing Director (Peri-operative Services) at Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital, Nathan, Queensland, Australia.

  • Catherine James is currently retired.

Amanda Henderson, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Nursing Education, Ipswich Road, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, QLD 4102, Australia. Email: Amanda_henderson@health.qld.gov.au

Abstract

Patients' rights such as the need for dignity and respect are essential in the provision of quality care. This exploratory clinical study explored patient dignity within the acute hospital environment through observation of staff–patient interactions and interviews with patients. Dignity can be influenced through two major mediums—maintenance of the physical environment and the communication style of the nurse. The findings identified deviations to ideal practice in the maintenance of the physical environment and communication styles of the nursing staff. Maintenance of dignity and privacy were not identified by patients during the interviews as being under threat despite deviations to ideal practice being observed. Patients possibly accept that ‘ideal practice’ is not always provided to them because nurses are ‘busy’, or other factors take precedence in this environment. It is possible that a prevailing culture influences patients' perceptions of whether dignity is maintained.

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