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“It´s a whole human being”: A qualitative study of care experiences among patients treated in de-centralised healthcare services

Ann-Chatrin Linqvist Leonardsen, Lilliana Del Busso, Vigdis Abrahamsen Grøndahl, Lars-Petter Jelsness-Jørgensen


Introduction and aims: Municipal acute wards (MAWs) have recently been established in Norway. These wards offer acute treatment, care and observation to patients who normally would have been hospitalised, aimed at reducing pressure on specialist healthcare services. This study was designed to explore care experiences among patients admitted to municipal acute wards.

Methods: Twenty-seven patients discharged from 5 different municipal acute wards in Østfold County, south-eastern Norway, participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Analysis of patients’ care experiences identified person-centeredness as a key theme. Subthemes related to person-centeredness were: (a) communication and (b) being treated as a person. Patient reflections were based on the patient-healthcare personnel encounters that they had experienced during their stay at the MAW. Verbal and non-verbal communication and a sense of being seen and looked after as a whole human being or a person, beyond the disease itself, were contrasted to earlier hospital experiences.

Conclusion: Patients reflected on communication and being treated as a person as elements that positively distinguished care in municipal acute wards from earlier hospital experiences. Since suboptimal communication and interaction between healthcare professionals and patients may be linked to patient dissatisfaction and poorer health outcomes, it is necessary for healthcare administrators and professionals not only to focus on the quality of medical outcome, but also on the quality of interpersonal relations in the healthcare environment.




patient-centeredness; patient experiences; decentralisation; communication; primary healthcare; municipality acute wards

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