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Nurses’ care preferences and the quality of nursing care : comparison of the characteristics and the nursing care received for selected high and low preference hospitalized patients Garry, Helen Bernice


In a field study thirty-three Registered Nurses were requested to select, from the patients currently on their nursing units, those patients who were perceived as most or least preferred patients by the majority of the unit nurses. The patient sample size included forty least preferred and forty most preferred patients. After the preference selection each nurse responded to questions which identified their perceptions of the socio-economic, and illness status of the selected patients. A patient behaviour rating scale was scored by each nurse for each patient. The scale included thirty-six adjective descriptors, distributed equally between conforming and nonconforming patient behaviours. 'Problem' patients were well described by the nonconforming or deviant behavioural adjectives while the most preferred patients were described as being very conforming or compliant patients—cooperative, easy to please, considerate and appreciative. The data also revealed that patients with a lengthy hospitalization, a chronic illness or a poor prognosis were least preferred by the nurses. The effects of nurse care preferences were analyzed in relation to the influence on the quality of nursing care received by each of the patient preference groups. The findings revealed that the quality of nursing care does differ for the high and low patient preference groups but the only significant quality score difference appeared in the psychosocial needs category. Three of the study's null hypotheses were accepted. Nurse care preferences were not systematically related to: 1. the demographic characteristics of the patients; 2. the patients' socio-economic status; or 3. the patient needs classification (workload). Three hypotheses were rejected. Nurse care preferences were significantly related to: 1. the illness status of the patients; 2. the behavioural descriptions of the patients; and 3. the quality of nursing care. The meaningfulness of these findings and the implications for further research are considered.

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