Journal of Professional Nursing

Experiences Of First Time Hospitalisation For Acute Illness   


Colette Blockley, MA (Nursing), RGON, Dip. Teaching (Tertiary),  Dip. Religious Studies and Spirituality.  Lecturer, School of Nursing, Otago Polytechnic 

Blockley, C. (2003). Experiences of first time  hospitalisation for acute illness. Nursing Praxis in  New Zealand, 19(2), 19-26. 



First time hospitalisation for acute illness can be a traumatic experience yet little  research has been conducted on the ways in which it impacts on patients. One  small research study (involving twelve patients) using semi-structured interviews  and thematic content analysis to explore patient experiences, revealed that  information and support play a significant role in this phenomenon. The present  article describes the patient experiences in relation to the themes of information  and support during three periods: pre-admission, admission and ward stay, and  discharge. Indications are that when adequate information and support are provided  in each of these phases, emotional trauma is reduced.   

Key Words: Acute hospitalisation, information, support, powerlessness       


Most people regard first time acute  hospitalisation with considerable  apprehension because it implies the  presence of illness too severe to be  treated in a doctor’s office. People  must temporarily abandon their role  in society and perhaps even face their  mortality. Understandably, anxiety is  often present. While numerous  studies have been conducted around  the experience of illness (Allbrook,  1997; Cousins, 1979; Young-Mason,  1997) and still more on patients’ need  to access appropriate information and  support (Astedt-Kurki & Haggman-  Laitila, 1992; Hallstrom & Elander,  2001; Taylor, Hudson & Keeling,  1991), there is a gap in the literature  in relation to how adult patients  experience their first acute  hospitalisation.  This article describes the perceptions  of twelve first time acute  hospitalisation patients in relation to  the amount of information and  support they received in three  different contexts: pre-admission,  admission and discharge. After a brief  literature review, background to the  study is provided before patient  experiences are explored within each  context. Similarities and differences  between contexts and patients are  also identified. The article concludes  with recommendations in relation to  information and support.    

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