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J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2012 Sep;19(7):569-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2011.01837.x. Epub 2011 Oct 26.

Patient dignity in psychiatric nursing practice.

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Department of Nursing, Karlstad University, Sweden.


Professional nurses have an ethical responsibility to protect and preserve the patients' dignity. The aim of this study was to describe how nurses experienced incidents relating to patients' dignity in a psychiatric nursing practice. A hermeneutic approach was used and data were collected using the critical incident technique. Data included 77 written critical incidents, which were interpreted by using a hermeneutic text interpretation. The findings show preserved dignity--caregivers have the courage to be present, and offended dignity - caregivers create powerlessness taken away by the patient. These findings show that patients' dignity in a psychiatric nursing practice can be preserved when caregivers act on their ethical responsibility. When patients' dignity is offended, the caregiver has become an inner value conflict, something they have been a part of against their own will.

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