• multiple-bed rooms;
  • hospital environment;
  • gender perspective

Aims:  To illuminate patients’ experiences of being cared for and nurses’ experiences of caring for patients in a multiple-bed hospital room.

Background:  Many patients and healthcare personnel seem to prefer single-bed hospital rooms. However, certain advantages of multiple-bed hospital rooms (MBRs) have also been described.

Method:  Eight men and eight women being cared for in a multiple-bedroom were interviewed, and two focus-group interviews (FGI) with 12 nurses were performed. A qualitative content analysis was used.

Results:  One theme –Creating a sphere of privacy– and three categories were identified based on the patient interviews. The categories were: Being considerate, Having company and The patients’ area. In the FGI, one theme – Integrating individual care with care for all – and two categories emerged: Experiencing a friendly atmosphere and Providing exigent care. Both patients and nurses described the advantages and disadvantages of multiple-bed rooms. The patient culture of taking care of one another and enjoying the company of room-mates were considered positive and gave a sense of security of both patients and nurses. The advantages were slight and could easily become disadvantages if, for example, room-mates were very ill or confused. The patients tried to maintain their privacy and dignity and claimed that there were small problems with room-mates listening to conversations. In contrast, the nurses stressed patient integrity as a main disadvantage and worked to protect the integrity of individual patients. Providing care for all patients simultaneously had the advantage of saving time.

Conclusions:  The insights gained in the present study could assist nurses in reducing the disadvantages and taking advantage of the positive elements of providing care in MBRs. Health professionals need to be aware of how attitudes towards male and female patients, respectively, could affect care provision.