Emotional Comfort: The Patient's Perspective of a Therapeutic Context
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine
Background - Comfort is a word that is frequently used to describe both physical and emotional aspects of the hospital experience. A number of definitions exist in the literature and there is a lack of clarity in understanding this concept. Objectives - This paper describes the therapeutic context of emotional comfort that was identified in a qualitative study that sought to explain the perceived therapeutic effect of interpersonal interactions that were experienced by patients during hospitalisation. Design - Grounded theory. Settings - Public and private hospitals situated in Perth, Western Australia. Participants - 40 patient participants from a variety of settings, and 32 nurse participants. All participants were over the age of 18 and spoke English. Methods - Formal and informal interviews, field observations. Results - Patients interpreted the interpersonal interactions that they experienced during hospitalisation in terms of their experience of emotional comfort or discomfort. A central feature of emotional comfort was the patient's perception of personal control. Conclusions - This study provides a greater understanding of the concept of comfort from the perspective of hospitalised patients. It highlights that patients approach their illnesses or injuries perceiving that a connection exists between the mind and the body.