Title of ArticleTrust leading to hope – the signification of meaningful encounters in Swedish healthcare
Type of ArticleOriginal Practice Development and Research
Author/sChristine Gustafsson, Lena-Karin Gustafsson, Ingrid Snellman
ReferenceVolume 3, Issue 1, Article 5
Date of PublicationMay 2013
Keywordscaring, healthcare staff, meaningful encounters, narratives, patients, phenomenological hermeneutics, relatives

Background: The fact that patients and relatives experience poor healthcare encounters is evident in the number of complaints to patients’ advisory committees, and from studies and statistics. Looking at ‘the other side of the coin’, research into good caring encounters experienced as meaningful encounters in healthcare is scarce.

Aim: To illuminate the signification of meaningful encounters in healthcare. 124 narratives from patients, relatives and healthcare staff regarding experiences of meaningful encounters in Swedish healthcare were analysed using a phenomenological hermeneutic research method.

Conclusions: The results indicate that a meaningful encounter means gratefulness, is founded on trust, cooperation and courage, and results in self-trust through wellbeing, increased understanding and life-changing insights. The encounters have given insight into, and increased understanding of, the patient’s own life, the families’ lives, and/or healthcare professionals’ lives. With this, and awareness of the importance and power of meaningful encounters, healthcare staff might use a meaningful encounter as a powerful instrument in caring.

Implications for practice:

  • For patients and relatives, trust derived from meaningful encounters in healthcare leads to self-trust
  • Caring within healthcare consisting of meaningful encounters, ‘the other side of the coin’ gives important knowledge that could facilitate improvements in healthcare staff’s encounters with patients and relatives, and also enrichment in their own professional development
  • Increased understanding and awareness of the power of meaningful encounters can be discussed in terms of patient safety

This article by Christine Gustafsson, Lena-Karin Gustafsson, Ingrid Snellman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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