Collaboration between relatives of frail elderly patients and nurses in acute hospital wards. Dimensions, prerequisites and outcome

by Lindhardt, Tove, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
The aim was to investigate collaboration between relatives of frail elderly patients and nurses in acute hospital wards, and to develop and test an instrument to investigate, from the relatives? perspective, dimensions of collaboration in this context and the association between collaboration and satisfaction with the hospital care trajectory. The underpinning assumption for the study was that relatives hold knowledge of the patients? situation, which is important for nurses to make a relevant and sufficient care plan. The first two studies were qualitative, investigating relatives? and nurses? experiences of the collaboration with each other. Eight relatives of elderly patients ³ 75 years of age, living at home and dependent on formal and informal help participated. Eight nurses (6 RN + 2 LPN) who conducted the discharge of the elderly patient participated in the second study. In the third study an instrument was developed for measuring collaboration, its prerequisites and outcomes from the relatives? perspective, and put through psychometric testing. In this study, and in the fourth study, which investigated the association between collaboration and satisfaction with the hospital care trajectory, 156 relatives of elderly patients participated. The context was acute medical and geriatric wards in two Danish hospitals. The lived experience of being a relative to a frail elderly patient revealed itself in two main essences: The history reflected the relationship and care history and was the frame of reference in which the hospital admission was interpreted and understood. The constituents were: The adult child, Parent for my mother, It is always in the back of my mind and A full time job. The essence Standing Guard encompassed the encounter with the hospital system and the constituents were: My God, is it now?, Powerless, If you relax, you fail, Watchdog and case manager and Those poor, poor people. The main theme in the interviews with nurses was Encountering relatives ? To be caught between ideals and practice and reflected that the nurses seemingly held two sets of conflicting attitudes towards relatives and the collaboration with them: One ideal and in accordance with their professional values, and another seemingly governing collaboration in practice. Themes were: The coincidental encounter ? the collaboration, which reflected that though ideally described as a structured process, collaboration appeared to be coincidental and rare; and Relatives ? a demanding resource. The sub themes were: Flee or fight ? the nurses? response, A matter of prioritising ? Barriers and promoters, The unwritten rules and The new relatives ? the demanding and unrealistic relatives. A model for collaboration was developed from literature and constituted the basis for development of instrument variables and items. In the factor analysis (PCA) five factors were extracted: ?Influence on decisions?, ?Quality of contact with nurses?, ?Trust and its prerequisites?, ?Achieved information level? and ?Influence on discharge?. The factor analysis supported the assumption that collaboration was a multi-dimensional construct characterised by shared decision-making and exchange of knowledge and information, with prerequisites such as quality of the contact and communication based on trust and respect. The instrument was mainly reliable and valid, although caution should be made due to the sample being small, and the design being cross sectional. Systematic dropout indicated that the study might have missed the most strained, the oldest and the least educated relatives. Further testing after a reduction of items as well as revising of the wording in some items is warranted. Dimensions of collaboration were predictors for the relatives? satisfaction with the hospital care trajectory, and lower ratings of collaboration were significantly associated with lower level of satisfaction. Further, powerlessness, guilt, having provided help less than one year and not providing psychosocial help were predictors for relatives? satisfaction with the hospital care trajectory. Whereas relatives rated poorly on influence on decisions and exchange of knowledge and information, the contact and relationship qualities with nurses were seemingly more satisfactory, although accessibility of nurses appeared to be a problem.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Lunds universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:MEDICINE; Gerontologi; Socialmedicin; Humanities; Humaniora; Social medicine; Gerontology; Content analysis; Phenomenology; Powerlessness; Guilt; Outcome; Instrument development and validation; Acute care facility; Frail elderly; Family care; Collaboration; Decision-making; samhällsmedicin; Questionnaire


Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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