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Int J Nurs Stud. 2012 May;49(5):528-38. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2011.10.024. Epub 2011 Nov 20.

The impact of an intervention to improve patient participation in a surgical care unit: a quasi-experimental study.

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Department of Surgical Sciences, Uppsala University, Entrance 70, SE-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden.



Organizational changes in surgical care are requiring patients to become more responsible for their own care, both before and after surgery, and also during recovery. Involving patients in their care is vital to improving quality of care and patient safety.


The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of the 'Tell-us' card on patients' perceptions of quality of care, with a specific focus on patient participation. Another aim was to evaluate the use of the Tell-us card from the patients' perspective.


A quasi-experimental design with an intervention group and control groups was used. The patient's self-written Tell-us card was introduced as the intervention.


The study was conducted in two surgical care units at a Swedish university hospital.


A consecutive sample of patients admitted from the waiting list and from the emergency department was included (n=310). The inclusion criteria were surgical patients with a hospital stay of at least one day. Patients who were younger than 18 years, not able to speak or write in Swedish, or unable or unwilling to give informed consent to participate were excluded.


Quality of care was assessed using the questionnaire 'Quality from the Patient's Perspective'. The patients included in the intervention group were asked to write what was most important for them during the day or just before discharge on patient-written Tell-us cards.


The use of the Tell-us card resulted in significant improvements (5 out of 17 items) in patients' abilities to participate in decisions about their nursing and medical care. The patients found the Tell-us card more useful in their interaction with registered nurses and assistant nurses than with physicians.


The use of the Tell-us card improved patients' participation in some areas of nursing and medical care in the surgical care units. The Tell-us card is an uncomplicated and inexpensive tool that could be an important step towards improved patient participation in the surgical care unit. More research is needed to evaluate the use of the Tell-us card in different hospital units and over a longer period of time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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