An increasing number of patients now make use of their legal right to read their medical record. We report findings from a study in which we conducted qualitative interviews with 17 Norwegian adult patients about their experiences of requesting a copy of their medical record following a hospital stay. Interviews took place between May, 2008 and April 2009. The analytical process, guided by qualitative content analysis, identified two main themes; "keeping a sense of control" and "not feeling respected as a person". The informants' experiences with reading their own medical record were often connected to their experiences in direct communication with health care professionals during the hospital stay, revealing a delicate interaction between trust and power. The informants were hoping for a more mutual exchange of information and knowledge from which they could benefit in the management of their own health. We conclude that to meet patients' expectations of mutuality, health care professionals in hospitals need to be more conscious about their attitudes and communication skills as well as how they exercise their power to define the patient's situation. At the same time, there should be more focus on how structural changes in the organization of hospitals may have impaired the capacity of health care professionals to meet these expectations. In the future, greater attention should also be paid to information exchange to avoid placing unreasonable responsibility on the patient to compensate for deficits in the health care system.
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