This paper investigates the patient's ability and need for participation during rehabilitation. The application of Ricoeur's phenomenological-hermeneutic interpretation theory with a narrative approach revealed that the rehabilitation process of 12 persons was successful in providing specific insight into patient participation. The ability and need for participation changed through the six-phased process of regaining meaning after a spinal cord injury; no will to participate, developing/generating strength to participate, need for participation and will to participate in decision-making. Concurrently, the existential meaning of patient participation was uncovered. The conclusion was that the professional's hard work of stimulating the patient to participate and then permit the patient to take part was decisive in relation to the patient's existence and recovery.
Tidskrift for Sygeplejeforskning, 2010, Vol 26, Issue 1, p. 20-25