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 

Reference:  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.   

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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