a qualitative meta-synthesis of hospitalized patients’ experience of interaction with fellow patients
Background: The significance of social interaction is commonly discussed and intensively studied as a substantial concept in the nursing profession. Social research conducted in hospital settings has prioritised to examine interaction between patients and doctors, patients and nurses and patients and relatives over patient-patient interaction. Exploration of patients´ dyads during hospitalization from the patient’s perspective is rare. Aim: To provide a clear view of existing knowledge of hospitalized patients’ significance to fellow patients. Methods: Qualitative meta-synthesis inspired by Sandelowski & Barroso’s approach. Four scientific articles, two doctoral thesis and one book chapter were included. Results: The analysis resulted in three core categories: The fellow patient as 1) an enforced companion; the interaction with fellow patients was an enforced companionship. Privacy was hard to achieve but even so, patients thought of interaction with fellow patients positively. For some patients interaction was a cause to distress, sadness and hopelessness 2) an expert on illness and hospital life; patients shared lived experience about this which was highly valued and appreciated by fellow patients. Too much information from fellow patients might rock patients’ confidence and hope for own recovery 3) a care provider; the patients’ community was characterized by compassion where they either received care from, or provided care to a fellow patient. Interacting with and supporting fellow patients was sometimes depressing and troublesome. Really understanding and caring for fellow patients was painful. Conclusion: The patients’ interaction is characterized as ambiguous, because interaction between the patients holds both resources and strains. The patient as a care provider may cause curiosity among nurses especially, as nurses, in general, are perceived as primary caregivers. Nurses need to discuss a change of attitude and change traditional ways of thinking about this.