Aim: The aim of this study is to provide an understanding of the significance of hospitalized patients’ interpersonal interaction with fellow patients in an infectious disease ward in a large Danish hospital. Method: A qualitative approach was selected using participant observation and semi-structured qualitative interviews. Six female participants at the age of 32–81 years with different types of infectious diseases accepted to participate in interviews. The analysis was carried out using Kvales’ three levels of qualitative data analysis. Data were catalogued into two main categories with several subcategories representing significance of patients’ interaction with fellow patients. Results: The qualitative analysis resulted in two main categories: (i) Caring for fellow patients and (ii) Sharing illness information with fellow patients. Each of the main categories was elucidated through several subcategories. Our findings clearly showed that interpersonal interaction with fellow patients was of utmost importance when it came to care and support and when they needed information about their illness. Typically, the interpersonal interaction was experienced as giving and referred to in positive terms, but occasionally, the opposite was experienced too. Less typically, the patients experienced interaction with fellow patients as a burden and referred to it in negative terms. Conclusions: Patients’ interaction resembled care as well as self-care. Patient–patient interaction was an important part of the social support system during hospitalization.
Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 2013, Vol 27, Issue 3, p. 608-615