Journal article

Encounters in a locked psychiatric ward environment


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Publication Details

Author list: Danielson, Ella

Publication year: 2007

Start page: 366

End page: 372

Number of pages: 7

ISSN: 1351-0126


This focused ethnographic study aims at describing encounters in the healthcare environment on a locked psychiatric ward. It was carried out in Sweden on an acute psychiatric ward for patients with affective and eating disorders. Data were collected through participant observations and informal interviews, and analysed by qualitative content analysis. The result shows that the healthcare environment on this locked psychiatric ward offered a space for encounters between people, in a continuum from professional care to private meetings and social events. It included joy and friendship as well as unintentional insights into other patients suffering. The characteristics of the encounters formed three themes: the caring relationship, the uncaring relationship and the unrecognized relationship. The caring and the uncaring relationship concerned relationships between staff and patients or their next of kin. These revealed contrasting qualities such as respect and flexibility as well as lack of respect and mistrust. The unrecognized relationship theme visualized the patients relationships with each other and included both supportive and intrusive elements that were probably significant for the outcome of care. The unrecognized relationship contributes with new knowledge about conditions for patients in inpatient care, and indicates that the patients relationships with each other merit greater attention.


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