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Nursing Inquiry

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DOI: 10.1111/nin.12513


The importance of patients taking an active role in their healthcare is recognized internationally, to improve safety and effectiveness in practice. There is still, however, some ambiguity about the conceptualization of that patient role; it is referred to interchangeably in the literature as engagement, involvement, and participation. The aim of this discussion paper is to examine and conceptualize the concepts of patient engagement, involvement, and participation within healthcare, particularly nursing. The concepts were found to have semantic differences and similarities, although, from a nursing perspective, they can be summoned to illustrate the establishment of a mutual partnership between a patient and a nurse. The individualization of such processes requires the joint effort of engagement, involvement, or participation, represented by interactive actions of both the patient (asking questions, telling/speaking up, knowledge acquisition, learning, and decision-making) and the nurse (recognizing, responding, information sharing, teaching, and collaborating). Suggesting that the concepts can be used interchangeably comes with some caution, requiring that nurses embrace patients playing a role in their health and healthcare. Further research and practice development should focus on how patients and nurses receive and respond to each other to establish patient engagement, involvement, and participation.


Accepted version. Nursing Inquiry, Vol. 30, No. 1 (January 2023): e12513. DOI. © 2023 Wiley. Used with permission.

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