Patients' perceptions of barriers for participation in nursing care

Scand J Caring Sci. 2011 Sep;25(3):575-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2010.00866.x. Epub 2011 Jan 17.


Background: In many Western countries as in Sweden, patients have legal right to participate in own care individually adjusted to each patient's wishes and abilities. There are still few empirical studies of patients' perceptions of barriers for participation. Accordingly, there is a need to identify what may prevent patients from playing an active role in own nursing care. Such knowledge is highly valuable for the nursing profession when it comes to implementation of individual patient participation.

Aim and objective: To explore barriers for patient participation in nursing care with a special focus on adult patients with experience of inpatient physical care.

Methodological design and justification: Data were collected through 6 focus groups with 26 Swedish informants recruited from physical inpatient care as well as discharged patients from such a setting. A content analysis with qualitative approach of the tape-recorded interview material was made.

Ethical issues and approval: The ethics of scientific work was adhered to. Each study participant gave informed consent after verbal and written information. The Ethics Committee of Göteborg University approved the study.

Results: The barriers for patient participation were identified as four categories: Facing own inability, meeting lack of empathy, meeting a paternalistic attitude and sensing structural barriers, and their 10 underlying subcategories.

Conclusions: Our study contributes knowledge and understanding of patients' experiences of barriers for participation. The findings point to remaining structures and nurse attitudes that are of disadvantage for patients' participation. The findings may increase the understanding of patient participation and may serve as an incentive in practice and nursing education to meet and eliminate these barriers, in quality assurance of care, work organization and further research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nursing Care*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Sweden