Sufficiency and relevance of information for inpatients in general ward settings: a qualitative exploration of information exchange between patients and nurses

Vivianne Crispin*, Carol Bugge, Kathleen Stoddart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Information exchange as part of shared decision-making is widely discussed in research and policy literature as a means of improving patient involvement in treatment and care. To date information exchange between patients and nurses has not been explored in ward contexts.

Objective: To explore the sufficiency of, and intentions behind, information exchanged by patients and nurses in surgical and medical ward settings using a recognised model of shared decision-making.

Design: A multiple-case study design was used. Data were collected from 19 cases. Each case comprised one patient, the nurses interacting with that patient, the interactions between them, and their perceptions about the interactions.

Settings: The study was undertaken across six surgical, six medical and one rehabilitation ward in a large teaching hospital in the United Kingdom.

Participants: Purposive sampling was used to first recruit nurses and then patients. Inclusion criteria included nurses registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and patients who had been in hospital for more than 24 h and who could consent to participating. Twenty-two nurses and 19 patients participated.

Methods: Interactions from 19 cases were observed and audio-recorded. Individual interviews with patients and nurses followed, and were related to, the observed interactions.

Results: Patients and nurses perceived they had exchanged sufficient information for their own needs including patient involvement, due to: information being shared previously and on an ongoing basis; having asked all their questions; therapeutic patient/nurse relationships; and, nurses speaking in lay terms. In contrast, the observational data suggested that insufficient information was exchanged between patients and nurses due to: lost opportunities for sharing information; paternalistic practice; and withholding information.

Conclusion: The elements of information exchange within a recognised model of shared decision-making do not adequately fit with patient/nurse interactions in ward settings. Participants generally perceived they had given and received enough information for their own needs. Therefore, the ways in which patients and nurses currently interact, could remain as they are. Policymakers should be aware of the varying contexts where healthcare staff work, and should promote information exchange and shared decision-making more strategically. Due to the complexities of patient/nurse interactions, consideration should be given to situation and context when applying these findings to practice.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-122
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Early online date22 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • information exchange
  • multiple-case study design
  • observational research
  • patient/nurse interactions
  • shared decision-making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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