Feeling safe during an inpatient hospitalization: a concept analysis

J Adv Nurs. 2014 Aug;70(8):1727-37. doi: 10.1111/jan.12348. Epub 2014 Jan 2.


Aim: This paper aims to explore the critical attributes of the concept feeling safe.

Background: The safe delivery of care is a high priority; however; it is not really known what it means to the patient to 'feel safe' during an inpatient hospitalization. This analysis explores the topic of safety from the patient's perspective.

Design: Concept analysis.

Data sources: The data bases of CINAHL, Medline, PsychInfo and Google Scholar for the years 1995-2012 were searched using the terms safe and feeling safe.

Methods: The eight-step concept analysis method of Walker and Avant was used to analyse the concept of feeling safe. Uses and defining attributes, as well as identified antecedents, consequences and empirical referents, are presented. Case examples are provided to assist in the understanding of defining attributes.

Results: Feeling safe is defined as an emotional state where perceptions of care contribute to a sense of security and freedom from harm. Four attributes were identified: trust, cared for, presence and knowledge. Relationship, environment and suffering are the antecedents of feeling safe, while control, hope and relaxed or calm are the consequences. Empirical referents and early development of a theory of feeling safe are explored.

Conclusion: This analysis begins the work of synthesizing qualitative research already completed around the concept of feeling safe by defining the key attributes of the concept. Support for the importance of developing patient-centred models of care and creating positive environments where patients receive high-quality care and feel safe is provided.

Keywords: concept analysis; feeling safe; nurse-patient relationship; nursing theory; patient perspective; patient safety; therapeutic relationship.

MeSH terms

  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Patient Safety*