Document Type




Publication Date




Source Publication

Journal of Clinical Nursing

Source ISSN



Aims and objectives

To examine patients’ experiences and preferences for engaging in their healthcare while hospitalised.


Promoting patient engagement or involvement in healthcare has become an important component of contemporary, consumer‐oriented approaches to quality care. Previous research on patient engagement highlights that preferences for engagement are not assessed while hospitalised, leading to patient role confusion and frustration.


Semistructured interviews were conducted with patients from January–March 2017 to examine their experiences and preferences for engaging in their care while hospitalised on medical‐surgical units in the United States. Inductive thematic analysis was used to uncover the themes from the interview transcriptions. The reporting of research findings followed the COREQ checklist.


Seventeen patients, eight male and nine female, aged between 19–83 years old were interviewed. Patients had a difficult time articulating how they participated in their care while hospitalised, with the majority stating there were few decisions to be made. Many patients felt that decisions were made prior to or during hospitalisation for them. Patients described their engagement through the following themes: sharing the subjective, involvement of family, information‐gathering, constraints, “I let them take care of me,” and variability.


Engagement is a dual responsibility of both nurses and patients. Patients’ experiences highlight that engagement preferences and experiences are not universal between patients, speaking to the importance of assessing patient preferences for engagement in health care upon hospital admission.

Relevance to clinical practice

The articulation of what patients actually experience in the hospital setting contributes to improve nursing practice by offering insight into what is important to the patient and how best to engage with them in their care. The constraints that patients reported facing related to their healthcare engagement should be used to inform the delivery of future engagement interventions in the acute care setting.


Accepted version. Journal of Clinical Nursing, Vol. 28, No. 1-2 (August 9, 2018) : 340-350. DOI. © 2018 Wiley. Used with permission.

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