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Psychiatric nurses' lived experiences of working with inpatient care on a general team psychiatric ward

  • A Berg
  • Ingalill Rahm Hallberg
Publishing year: 2000
Language: English
Pages: 323-333
Publication/Series: Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Volume: 7
Issue: 4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Abstract english

To reveal the meaning of being a nurse working with inpatient care on a team psychiatric ward in Sweden, 22 psychiatric nurses were interviewed and the transcribed texts were analysed by means of latent content analysis. Three themes emerged from the analysis: developing a working relationship with the patient in everyday caregiving; encountering and handling the unforseeable in daily living; and struggling with professional independence and dependency. Developing a working relationship with the patient in everyday caregiving meant that the nurse-patient relationship was the foundation of the caregiving and included being with, as well as doing for, and with, the patient. Four different approaches in daily caregiving were revealed: networking, teaching, containing and protecting. The nurses' approaches in the nurse-patient relationship alternated between being an 'expert' and a 'collaborator'. Encountering and handling unforeseeable situations meant that the nurses were exposed to and had to be prepared for unpredictable situations where they were on their own, handling sometimes strong emotional reactions and relying on their own ability to act. Struggling with professional independence and dependency meant that the nurses seemed to lack professional confidence, although they had many responsibilities, but also less authority to decide about overall care planning. Contextual aspects such as organizational hindrance, unsatisfactory work-environment and co-operation difficulties were illuminated. The result indicates the need for a stable and predictable organizational structure if nurses are to manage the demanding nurse-patient relationships that everyday caregiving requires. A question highlighted by this study is whether multidisciplinary team organization has been effectively developed in Sweden, as uncertainty about the roles and responsibilities of nurses was apparent.


  • Nursing
  • nurse–patient relationship
  • nurses' lived experiences
  • psychiatric inpatient care
  • work organization
  • work-environment


  • ISSN: 1351-0126
Ingalill Rahm Hallberg
E-mail: ingalill [dot] rahm_hallberg [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emerita

Health-promoting Complex Interventions