Nurse-patient communication: an exploration of patients' experiences

J Clin Nurs. 2004 Jan;13(1):41-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2004.00817.x.


Background: Patient-centred communication is a basic component of nursing and facilitates the development of a positive nurse-patient relationship which, along with other organizational factors, results in the delivery of quality nursing care. Nurses are frequently described in the literature as poor communicators, however, very few studies have examined patients' experiences of how nurses communicate.

Aims and objectives: The aim of the study was to explore and produce statements relating to patients' experiences of how nurses communicate.

Design: A qualitative perspective using an hermeneutic phenomenological approach was considered to be the most appropriate methodology for this study.

Methods: Using purposeful sampling, eight patients in a general teaching hospital in the Republic of Ireland were interviewed. Data were collected using unstructured interviews. Data analysis was a reflective process and the findings were presented through the description and interpretation of themes and sub-themes.

Results: Following data analysis four themes emerged. These were, 'lack of communication', 'attending', empathy' and 'friendly nurses'.

Conclusions: The findings of this study indicate that, in contrast to the literature that suggests that nurses are not good at communicating with patients, nurses can communicate well with patients when they use a patient-centred approach. However, health care organizations do not appear to value or recognize the importance of nurses using a patient-centred approach when communicating with patients to ensure the delivery of quality patient care.

Relevance to clinical practice: The implication of these findings for clinical practice is that the task-centred approach to patient care that is associated with nursing in the past, appears to be alive and well. If health care management want to ensure that patients receive quality nursing care, they will need to consider patient-centred communication to be essential to encourage and support nurses to communicate in this manner.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Communication*
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology*
  • Ireland
  • Kinesics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient-Centered Care / standards
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Support
  • Time Management / psychology
  • Wit and Humor as Topic