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Mina publikationer i DiVA

  • Understanding the job in a new way - a basis for development of competence in diabetes care

    Patients complain that doctors and nurses do not listen, and therefore a need to develop the patient encounter is at hand. Phenomenological theory has opened new ways to develop professional competence. If the idea holds that we express our understanding about our work through our actions, a change in understanding might further develop professional competence. This idea offers a new way to develop competence in diabetes health care service. The aim of this study was to map health care professionals' understanding of the patient encounter before and after an educational intervention that focused the way the health care professional experienced the encounter, and to describe how their understanding changed. Two general practitioners and two diabetes nurses participated. They were interviewed before and after the intervention. The intervention comprised 4-5 sessions during which they together with a tutor reviewed their videotaped consultations with different persons with diabetes. The tutors' role was to make interventions that could alter the persons understanding of the diabetes consultation through questioning. The interviews were analysed using phenomenographic method. The results show that the professionals changed their ways of experiencing the encounter after the intervention. They started to question their way of working, focused the patient's learning process and became interested in how to stimulate it.

  • A change of the physicians' understanding of the encounter parallels competence development

    Patients today complain that physicians do not listen. There is a need to improve the professional competence in the patient encounter. According to theory, competence is a result of how people perceive their work. Observation and reflection can improve the competence. The aim of this study was to investigate if physicians can develop a more patient-centred consultation style by an experienced-based specialist course and how such a development is related to the physicians understanding of the task. The physicians video recorded consultations and reflected on these. The video consultations were analysed with a time study and Pendleton et al.’s consultation schedule [Pendleton D, Schoefield T, Tate P, Havelock P. The consultation: an approach to learning and teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.]. Before–after questions were answered. The study indicates that seven out of 10 physicians participating in the course had developed a patient-centred attitude and acted according to it. The time study gave ambiguous results. This study implicates that it is possible to initiate competence development by influencing the understanding of the encounter.

  • Gaining Professional Competence for Patient Encounters by Means of a New Understanding

    Swedish health care is currently facing problems, such as lack of financial resources, staff shortage and dissatisfaction among patients and professionals. Patients’ dissatisfaction was the point of departure for the present study, and one approach dealing with this problem was investigated. It was hypothesised that a patient-centred perspective could offer a possible solution. The aim of the study was to explore health care professionals’ and medical students’ understanding of their professional role and the patient encounter. A further goal was to determine whether these understandings could be developed by educational interventions. Students and professionals have been either interviewed or responded to a survey about their professional role and the patient encounter. Qualitative analysis was used. One group- and one individualised intervention were carried out. The participants’ understandings of their professional role were taken as the starting point for learning. The results showed that a minority of medical students and professionals in diabetes care had incorporated a patient-centred perspective. Nurses in telephone advisory services recognised the patients’ needs, but experienced conflicting demands of being both carer and gatekeeper. A non-optimal match between patients’ needs and what professionals understand as their role could cause some of the problems. Competence development could be achieved by taking the participants understanding of the professionals’ role and of the patient encounter as a starting point for reflection. The results have implications for changes in organisation and education in health care, to optimise outcomes of care. Time for reflection, mentoring and professional development is needed.

  • 'Carer and gatekeeper' - conflicting demands in nurses' experiences of telephone advisory services

    Millions of calls are made to the telephone advisory services in primary health care in Sweden. The patients seem happy with the advice and counselling they receive, but little has been written about nurses' experiences of performing telephone advisory services. Yet, the nurses are expected to be patient, sensitive and have a broad knowledge of medicine, nursing and pedagogy. The aim of this study was to describe how nurses experience the patient encounter when performing telephone advisory services. A strategic sample of five nurses were interviewed and asked to describe how they experienced the central aspects of the patient encounter by telephone. The transcribed interviews were analysed by the Empirical Phenomenological Psychological method. The nurses' experience of the patient encounter when performing telephone advisory services can be characterized in terms of the conflicting demands of being both carer and gatekeeper. The constituents of these conflicting demands were: reading between the lines while pressed for time; educating patients for self-care while fearful of misinterpreting the situation; encountering patients' satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The conflicting demands of being both professional carer and gatekeeper caused stress among the nurses. The organization of the telephone advisory services seems to hinder high-quality care.

  • Professional artist, good Samaritan, servant and co-ordinator : four ways of understanding the anaesthetist's work

    Background: Evaluating clinical competence among anaesthetists has so far focused mostly on theoretical knowledge and practical skills. According to theory, however, the way anaesthetists understand their own work has also greatly influenced the development of professional competence. The aim of this study was to investigate how anaesthetists understand their work.

    Methods: Nineteen Swedish anaesthetists were interviewed. The interviews were open and sought answers to three questions 1) When do you feel you have been successful in your work?; 2) What is difficult or what hinders you in your work?; and 3) What is the core of your professional anaesthesia work? Phenomenographic analysis was performed.

    Results: Four ways of understanding the anesthesiologists' professional work were found: 1) Give anaesthesia and control the patient's vital functions; 2) Help the patient, alleviate his/her pain and anxiety; 3) Give service to the whole hospital to facilitate the work of other doctors and nurses, caring for severely ill patients; and 4) Organize and direct the operation ward to make the operations list run smoothly.

    Conclusions: This study shows that anaesthetists understand their work in qualitatively different ways, which can be assumed to affect their work actions and also the way their competence develops. This has implications for the education of anaesthetists; it is important to find ways of making anaesthetists in training consciously aware of the different ways their work can be understood, as this will give them better prerequisites for future competence development.

  • Swedish health care professionals' diverse understandings of diabetes care

    Knowledge of health care professionals’ different understandings of diabetes care is important when preparing such professionals in patient education. For patients to manage illness effectively, the actions of health care professionals are crucial. Patients’ understanding of their condition should be taken as the point of departure when creating a learning situation. The professionals’ understandings of diabetes care were mapped using a survey including 169 primary care doctors, nurses, assistant nurses and chiropodists in Stockholm, Sweden. The responses were analysed using a phenomenographic approach. Five understandings were identified: the professionals treat the patients, the professionals give information, the professionals focus relation and organisation, the professionals seek the patient’s agreement, and the professionals focus the patient’s understanding of the situation. Only 20 (12%) of the 169 professional caregivers focused the patient’s understanding. Professionals need to develop their understandings of health care and the professional–patient interaction in order to support the patients’ learning.

  • Anaesthetists understand their work in different ways – Reply
  • Balint training makes GPs thrive better in their job

    In this study, we examined Balint group participants' sense of control and satisfaction in their work situation and their attitudes towards caring for patients with psychosomatic problems. Forty-one GPs filled in a questionnaire with a 10-point visual analogue scale. Of these, 20 had participated in Balint groups for more than one year and 21 were a reference group. The Balint physicians reported better control of their work situation (e.g. taking coffee breaks and participating in decision making), thought less often that the patient should not have come for consultation or that psychosomatic patients were a time-consuming burden, and were less inclined to refer patients or take unneeded tests to terminate the consultation with the patient. These results might indicate higher work-related satisfaction and better doctor-patient relationship.

  • Interventions to support reflection and learning : a qualitative study

    The aim of this research was to explore the role of a professional development supervisor in helping health professionals to reflect on their role in patient consultations. This article is written from the viewpoint of patient-centred care and seeks to examine how the mentor/supervisor can facilitate reflection and learning by discussing, with professionals, videotapes of their regular meetings with patients. The specific context of the article is an educational intervention in Sweden, based on modern theories of competence development for professionals in diabetes care. A purposeful sample of 18 patients with type 2 diabetes agreed to have their regular meeting with a general practitioner (GP) or diabetes nurse videotaped. The GPs or diabetes nurses of these patients then participated in an intervention, comprising sessions when they reviewed with a supervisor their consultations with the patients. These supervising sessions were videotaped and are investigated in this article. The supervisor's role was to make observations that could alter the professional's understanding of the diabetes consultation through video-cued narrative reflection. Five overarching themes were identified from the content (the what-aspect) of the intervention: medical problems; patient characteristics and reactions; patient education; the consultation as such; and the healthcare organization. The activities used in carrying out the intervention (the how-aspect) were: confirmation and feedback; interpretation; reflective questioning; suggestions and corrections; and closed-end questions or brief answers. It was hypothesized that this way of conducting reflective educational interventions would be beneficial for healthcare professionals when working with patients with various longstanding medical conditions, recognizing that a patient-centred approach which included the patient's learning and possibilities for self-management are more suitable for the chronic illness encounter.

  • Trainee anaesthetists understand their work in different ways : implications for specialist education

    Background. Traditionally, programmes for specialist educationin anaesthesia and intensive care have been based on lists ofattributes such as skills and knowledge. However, modern researchin the science of teaching has shown that competence developmentis linked to changes in the way professionals understand theirwork. The aim of this study was to define the different waysin which trainee anaesthetists understand their work.

    Methods. Nineteen Swedish trainee anaesthetists were interviewed.The interviews sought the answers to three open-ended questions.(i) When do you feel you have been successful in your work?(ii) What is difficult or what hinders you in your work? (iii)What is the core of your anaesthesia work? Transcripts of theinterviews were analysed by a phenomenographic approach, a researchmethod aiming to determine the various ways a group of peopleunderstand a phenomenon.

    Results. Six ways of understanding their work were defined:giving anaesthesia according to a standard plan; taking responsibilityfor the patient’s vital functions; minimizing the patient’ssuffering and making them feel safe; giving service to specialistdoctors to facilitate their care of patients; organizing andleading the operating theatre and team; and developing one’sown competence, using the experience gained from every new patientfor learning.

    Conclusions. Trainee anaesthetists understand their work indifferent ways. The trainee’s understanding affects bothhis/her way of performing work tasks and how he/she developsnew competences. A major task for teachers of anaesthesia isto create learning situations whereby trainees can focus onnew aspects of their professional work and thus develop newways of understanding it.

  • Swedish medical students' views of the changing professional role of medical doctors and the organisation of health care

    Medical students will influence future health care considerably. Their professional orientation while at medical school will be related to their future professional development. Therefore, it is important to study this group's view of the role of medical doctors, especially because Swedish health care is currently undergoing major changes and financial cut backs. Here, the theoretical framework was contemporary theories of competence development, which has shown that people's understanding of their work influences their actions. The aim of this study was to describe medical students' views of their future professional role in health care. In total, 57 fourth-year medical students at a Swedish university were asked to write a short essay about how they conceptualised their professional role in future health care. Fifty-three students (93%) replied. The essays were analysed qualitatively in three steps and four themes were subsequently identified: the professional role in change, organisation of health care, working conditions and the possibilities of having a balanced life. Some factors mentioned that would strongly influence the professional role were being team leader, increased specialisation, supporting the patient and computer science and technology. The students expressed ambiguous feelings about power and leadership. The results indicate that the students share a rather dark view of both the medical profession and health care, which seems to be related to stress and financial cutbacks. Mentoring, time for reflection and changes in the curricula might be needed.

  • Physicians perceptions of possibilities and obstacles prior to implementing a computerised drug prescribing support system

    Seeks to identify physicians' perceptions of possibilities and obstacles prior to implementing a computerised drug prescribing support system. Details a descriptive, qualitative study, with semi-structured individual interviews of 21 physicians in the Accident and Emergency Department of South Stockholm General Hospital. Identifies four descriptive categories for possibilities and obstacles. Concludes that gaining access to patient drug history enables physicians to carry out work in a professional way – a need the computerised prescription support system was not developed for and thus cannot fulfil. Alerts and producer-independent drug information are valuable in reducing workload. However, technical prerequisites form the base for a successful implementation. Time must be given to adapt to new ways of working.

  • Improving the diabetes-patient encounter by reflective tutoring for staff

    There is relative consensus about the advantages of patient-centred consultations. However, they have not been easy to realise in clinical praxis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether an intervention focused on health care professionals' understanding of the diabetes-patient encounter could facilitate a patient-centred way to encounter these patients. Two GPs and two nurses participated in the year-long intervention. The intervention focused on the staff's understanding of the encounter. Staff video recorded four to five encounters each and reflected together with a supervisor on their understanding of the encounters and how they were conducted. The encounters were analysed with the Verona-MICS/Dr coding system and patients' comments were analysed separately. The content of the consultations and how they were conducted was also assessed. There was a significant change of two patient-centred items by the staff over time. Two staff seemed to change their educational model. Modern theories of competence development seem to be useful in clinical settings.

  • The role of drug and therapeutics committees : Perceptions of chairs and information officers

    Purpose – Improved quality and safety in drug use is a public health goal of major importance. In Sweden, local drug and therapeutics committees (DTCs) have adopted the task of working for safe and rational drug use. This study aimed to explore how chairs conceived the role of the DTCs, to explore how information officers conceived their own role, and to determine whether the respondents included patients in their answers. Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected using questionnaires and the answers were analysed according to phenomenographic method to identify conceptions. “Patient awareness” was studied by content analysis. Findings – In both groups the prescribers were the focus of attention, and only a few respondents mentioned patients. A variation of four conceptions was found among chairs and three among information officers. It would be beneficial if DTCs used this knowledge in their development. Originality/value – The importance of “patient awareness” within DTCs must be further explored.

  • Misunderstandings about illness and treatment among patients with type 2 diabetes

    Aims. This paper reports a study whose aim was to describe the misunderstandings that Swedish patients with type 2 diabetes have about their illness and treatment. Background. It is well known that patients with type 2 diabetes need extensive support and education to learn to manage and live with their illness. However, a Swedish survey has shown that only 34% of these patients had good metabolic control. Despite intensive education and support, misunderstandings about both the illness and treatment seem to be common. Furthermore, patients are currently complaining that health care services sometimes obstruct rather than support self-care and learning. Methods. We videotaped 18 authentic encounters between a patient with diabetes and a physician, or a diabetes nurse. Patients then viewed the video and reflected on what took place during the consultation. Video-recordings and transcribed reflections were analysed thematically. Results. Five themes emerged from the analysis: (a) Type 2 diabetes is not 'real diabetes'; (b) Complications - horror visions or suppression; (c) Self-monitoring of blood glucose and medication is a routine, not a learning tool; (d) Diet - the important thing is to reduce fat and (e) 'Physical exercise is good, they tell us'. Four of the 18 patients showed no misunderstandings. Misunderstandings of diabetes and its treatment were thus common and numerous, despite regular checkups and good access to care. The patients adhered to prescribed regimens but did not know why they performed many routines or how they could benefit from them. Conclusion. The results show that misunderstandings of illness and treatment were common. We suggest that diabetes educators should base their education on this variation of understanding, using a phenomenological approach to learning. Reflecting on this kind of varied experiences can be a powerful tool to help people to move from 'novice to expert' and apply basic routines to new situations.

  • A tension between genuine care and other duties : Swedish nursing students' views of their future work.

    There is a current need for nurses to take on new roles due to changing health care policies, economic cut-backs and shortage of staff. It is therefore important to study nursing students' view of their future profession. The theoretical framework was contemporary theories of competence development, which has shown that people's understanding of their work is expressed in their actions. The aim of this study was to describe nursing students' understanding of their future professional role in health care. A purposeful sample of 12 nursing students wrote narratives. The texts were condensed in five steps using the Empirical Phenomenological Psychological Method. The essence of the students' view of their future work was A tension between genuine nursing care and other duties. Four themes constituted this essence: professional status, working conditions and stress, evidence-based nursing contra holistic care, teamwork, co-operation and disrespect, and intensive care instead of geriatrics. This study highlights pedagogic and practical problems that need to be constructively addressed. The nursing students' eagerness to care in a holistic way needs to be acknowledged and used in a fruitful way. This core function of nursing needs to be integrated with up-to-date nursing research.

  • Defining and promoting excellence in anaesthesia : In Refresher course lectures, Euroanaesthesia 2006
  • Ways of understanding the encounter with head and neck cancer patients in the hospital dental team - a phenomenographic study

    Introduction: Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common malignancy in the world. Fifty percent of the patients can be cured by surgery, radiotherapy or a combination approach. Head and neck cancer is life-threatening, and treatment may leave the patient with visible facial disfigurements and impairment of functions such as speech and eating. This affects not only the patient, but may arouse difficult feelings in the treatment staff. Dental personnel are involved in all facets of treatment, yet they have no specific training in cancer care. Background: The aim of this study was to describe the variation in ways dental personnel understand and experience the encounter with head and neck cancer patients, as the way of understanding a certain phenomenon is judged to be fundamental to the way we act and form our beliefs. Methods: Twenty members of hospital dental teams were interviewed. The interviews focused on experiences of the encounter with head and neck cancer patients. A qualitative research approach, phenomenography, was used in analysing the interviews. The encounter was perceived in three qualitatively different ways: as an act of caring, as a serious and responsible task and as an overwhelming emotional situation. The results indicate that hospital dental personnel are not able to lean on education and professional training in finding ways of dealing with situations with strong emotional impact. This has implications for the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer, as well as education of dental personnel.

  • To cope with uncertainty : stroke patients' use of temporal models in narratives

    Stroke victims have to cope with a disrupted autobiography and anxiety because of an uncertain future. Professionals share this uncertainty. The patients reveal their experiences in narratives, and when they try to regain coherence and confidence in life, they use narratives in the reconstructions. Because they have a temporal problem, time might be an important issue in these narratives. The aim of this study was to elucidate the use of time models in stroke patients' narratives. Nineteen stroke patients, who had recently been discharged to their homes after the stroke, accepted to participate in the study. Their age span was between 56 and 89 years. They had lived active urban lives before the stroke, and poststroke only three had more serious physical impairment, and none was demented. They were asked to talk about their present life and their conceptions of future life. The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim and narratives that referred to temporal aspects were thematically analysed with reference to narrative time models. The stroke accident had caused an autobiographical disruption and a temporal split because of a new awareness of human temporality and an uncertainty of the future. Confronted with these problems of time, the stroke victims constructed narratives based on the time models: time cycles and dissolution of time limits, exchange of time and exclusion from time. Hence, the time models worked as tools when the stroke victims re-established coherence in their present and future life. Stroke patients handled an uncertain future by using temporal models in their narratives. Professionals can support stroke patients by reinforcing these models.

  • How patient-centred am I? : A new method to measure physicians' patient-centredness

    Objective

    To describe a new method to determine physicians’ self-perceived degree of patient-centredness. A pilot study combining qualitative and quantitative methods.

    Methods

    Forty-one general practitioners (GPs) answered a questionnaire consisting of three open-ended questions about their view of the consultation and by choosing among 28 roles of the physician in the physician–patient relationship. Twenty of the GPs had participated in Balint groups while 21 had had no access to Balint group. Patient-centredness is central to Balint groups and consequently Balint group participants would be expected to be patient-centred.

    Results

    The answers to the two parts were divided into three groups each, patient-centred, non-patient-centred and intermediary, and analysed statistically. Significantly more Balint participants were patient-centred than the reference group.

    Conclusion

    The instrument describes physicians’ self-perceptions of their patient-centredness and can distinguish a group of patient-centred physicians from a group of non-patient-centred physicians.

    Practice implications

    The instrument can be useful to evaluate educational programmes and detect decline in patient-centredness as early sign of burnout.

  • Being a young and inexperienced trainee anaesthetist : a phenomenological study on tough working conditions

     Background: Physicians at the beginning of their specialist education have been reported to be especially exposed to stress and difficult working conditions. Considerable worry has also been caused by reports about anaesthetists dying at a younger age than other specialists as well as by reports about higher than average suicide rates among anaesthetists. Maybe as a consequence, many young doctors are reluctant to choose anaesthesiology as their future specialty. The aim of this study was to investigate what difficulties trainee anaesthetists experience at work.

    Methods: Nineteen trainee anaesthetists in six Swedish hospitals were interviewed. Phenomenological analysis of the interview text was performed.

    Results: All trainees had experienced considerable, sometimes extreme demands at work. Most of them often felt insufficient and inadequate and had problems with the professional role. Support from consultants was sometimes lacking. Some trainees expressed deep feelings of loneliness and helplessness in difficult clinical situations.

    Conclusions: This study shows that trainee anaesthetists have to live up to high work demands, often with very little support. Because too much stress is an obstacle to professional learning, such working conditions are a hindrance to good specialist education. The first measure to be taken should be to ensure that all trainee anaesthetists always have easy access to senior cover.

    Background: Physicians at the beginning of their specialist education have been reported to be especially exposed to stress and difficult working conditions. Considerable worry has also been caused by reports about anaesthetists dying at a younger age than other specialists as well as by reports about higher than average suicide rates among anaesthetists. Maybe as a consequence, many young doctors are reluctant to choose anaesthesiology as their future specialty. The aim of this study was to investigate what difficulties trainee anaesthetists experience at work.

    Methods: Nineteen trainee anaesthetists in six Swedish hospitals were interviewed. Phenomenological analysis of the interview text was performed.

    Results: All trainees had experienced considerable, sometimes extreme demands at work. Most of them often felt insufficient and inadequate and had problems with the professional role. Support from consultants was sometimes lacking. Some trainees expressed deep feelings of loneliness and helplessness in difficult clinical situations.

    Conclusions: This study shows that trainee anaesthetists have to live up to high work demands, often with very little support. Because too much stress is an obstacle to professional learning, such working conditions are a hindrance to good specialist education. The first measure to be taken should be to ensure that all trainee anaesthetists always have easy access to senior cover.

  • Variation in views on clients in interprofessional work for vocational rehabilitation in Sweden

    To deal with long-term sickness absence, inter-organizational and interprofessional projects for rehabilitation were established in Sweden in the late 1990s. This study explores the different views about the clients of such a project from the professionals of the organizations involved. Twenty-one key informants were interviewed in 1999 and 22 in 2002. The interviews were semi-structured and analysed with a phenomenographic approach. Four descriptive categories emerged: (A) the individual as consisting of components, (B) the individual in his/her context, (C) the individual as part of a group, and (D) the individual as part of the population. Category A included a paternalistic view and B included a maternalistic as well as an autonomous view. Both paternalism and maternalism imply an inequality in the relationship between the professional and the client. Category C had an organizational perspective, whereas category D had a community perspective. Both of these perspectives included an abstract view of the client. The conclusions were that the professionals had qualitatively different views on clients, which might lead to unequal encounters as well as differences in opportunities for rehabilitation. The results stress the importance of discussing what ethical values are desirable, not least in inter-organizational and interprofessional projects.

  • Understanding the meaning of rehabilitation to an aphasic patient through phenomenological analysis - a case study

    Stroke patients with aphasia commonly suffer from distress related to their language deficit. They are often unable to express what they experience during their rehabilitation. Hence, the aim of this study was to reveal the meaning of rehabilitation to an aphasic person. With an approach based on the philosophy of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty, two open-ended interviews were analysed through the Empirical Phenomenological Psychological (EPP) method. The essential structure of the meaning of rehabilitation to the informant was that he lived as being responsible in a dichotomised situation. The informant had to adapt his behaviour, thereby destroying his chances of normal interactions; he was supposed to train in a goal-oriented way and believe in recuperation, but at the same time, he had to prepare himself and his next of kin for a failure. The defined impairment of aphasia misled both the informant and health care professionals to focus only language therapy, hence leaving the informant unsupported in other important aspects of the rehabilitation.

  • The uncanny mouth - a phenomenological approach to oral cancer

    Objective: The aim of this retrospective qualitative study was to describe how patients with oral cancer experience their sickness and treatment. Methods: A purposeful sample of seven patients with oral cancer was interviewed. Data were analysed using a phenomenological approach outlined by van Manen. Results: The essence of the patients' experiences can be described as embodiment in a mouth that has become unreal, or 'uncanny'. At treatment start the body is invaded by cancer, during treatment there is no escape from a wounded mouth, at treatment end the mouth is disabled. Conclusions: The findings indicate that oral cancer patients' need for support may increase as treatment progresses and may be greatest at end of radiotherapy, as they return home with mouths that have not recovered after treatment and do not function normally. Practice implications: This suggests the importance of understanding the patients' situation during treatment and their desire for a return to normal living and normal mouth functions at treatment end. If possible, plans for oral rehabilitation should be considered in initial treatment planning. As the treatment of oral cancer is multiprofessional, this knowledge may be useful in guiding the organization of oral cancer care and multiprofessional collaboration.

  • Enjoying work or burdened by it? How anaesthetists experience and handle difficulties at work : a qualitative study

    Background: The aim of this study was to explore difficulties at work fromanaesthetists’ own perspective and to examine how anaesthetistshandle and cope with situations that are perceived as difficultand potentially stressful.

    Methods: Two sets of interviews were conducted with 19 specialist anaesthetistsin Sweden. The first set of interviews aimed at finding howthe anaesthetists experienced difficulties at work. It consistedof in-depth interviews based on one open-ended question. Weanalysed the interviews with a phenomenological method, lookingfor themes in anaesthetists’ descriptions of difficultiesat work. In the second set, the interviews were semi-structuredwith open-ended questions, based on themes found in the firstinterview set. These interviews aimed at exploring how the intervieweesdescribed their ways of handling difficulties and how they copedwith potentially stressful situations.

    Results: Analysis of the first set of interviews resulted in five themes,describing how the anaesthetists experienced difficulties atwork. All interviewees talked about difficulties related tomore than one of the themes. The second set of interviews revealedtwo main categories of ways of handling difficulties. First,problem solving consisted of descriptions of methods for handlingdifficult situations which aimed at solving problems, and second,coping strategies described ways of appraising potentially stressfulsituations that minimized stress, despite the problem not beingsolved.

    Conclusions: The anaesthetists interviewed in this study maintained thatthey enjoyed work and could see no external obstacles to doinga good job. They had arrived at a reconciliation of their workwith its inherent difficulties and problems. Getting accessto their coping strategies might help young anaesthetists tocome to terms with their work.

  • The faceless encounter : ethical dilemmas in telephone nursing

    Aim. This paper aims to present the findings of a study designed to describe ethical dilemmas, in the form of conflicting values, norms and interests, which telenurses experience in their work.

    Background. Telephone nursing is an expanding part of health care. Telephone nurses in Sweden assess care needs, provide advice, support and information, and recommend and coordinate healthcare resources. Lately, ethical demands on healthcare professionals in general have increased. The reasons include new biomedical competence, an ageing population and constrained resources which have made priority setting a primary concern for doctors and nurses. When ethical problems arise, colleagues need open dialogue. Despite this, nurses lack such a dialogue.

    Method. A purposeful sample of 12 female telenurses in Sweden was interviewed twice during 2004 and 2005. The transcribed interviews were analysed thematically.

    Results. Five themes were found: talking through a third party; discussing personal and sensitive problems over the phone; insufficient resources and the organization of health care; balancing callers' information needs with professional responsibility; and differences in judging the caller's credibility.

    Conclusion. The present study has identified five different themes in which Swedish telenurses experience ethical dilemmas in their work. This shows how ethical dilemmas in various forms are present in telenursing. Questions of autonomy, integrity and prioritizing are particularly highlighted by the participating nurses. Telenurses in Sweden also experience new ethical demands due to a multicultural society. Although several of the identified dilemmas also occur in other areas of nursing we argue that these situations are particularly challenging in telenursing.

    Relevance to clinical practice. The work organization should provide opportunities for ethical competence-building, where ethical dilemmas in telenursing are highlighted and discussed. Such a strategy might lead to decreased moral uncertainty and distress among telenurses, with positive consequences for callers.

  • Pionjärers arbete i motvind födde två nya medicinska specialiteter

    [Pioneers' work against odds resulted in two new medical specialties]

    Torsten Gordh Sr and Ragnar Berfenstam are two influential Swedish doctors, who have worked in medical specialities of quite different character, namely social medicine and anaesthesiology. Still they have much in common: both introduced a new medical speciality in Sweden and both continued with research for many years after retirement. Two physicians with this background should have much to offer young doctors of today. We therefore performed an interview study to describe Torsten Gordh's and Ragnar Berfenstam's experiences as researchers and physicians. The study was based on in-depth interviews. The thematic analysis of the interview texts showed that the two pioneer physicians had to fight an uphill battle to introduce their new medical specialities. Both started new fields of scientific research; at the same time both were dedicated to their professional work. Torsten Gordhs and Ragnar Berfenstams were not only successful researchers but also proficient and considerate doctors for their patients.

  • Professional artist, good Samaritan, servant and co-ordinator : four ways of understanding the anaesthetist's work

    Evaluating clinical competence among anaesthetists has so far focused mostly on theoretical knowledge and practical skills. According to theory, however, the way anaesthetists understand their own work has also greatly influenced the development of professional competence. The aim of this study was to investigate how anaesthetists understand their work. Methods: Nineteen Swedish anaesthetists were interviewed. The interviews were open and sought answers to three questions 1) When do you feel you have been successful in your work?; 2) What is difficult or what hinders you in your work?; and 3) What is the core of your professional anaesthesia work? Phenomenographic analysis was performed. Results: Four ways of understanding the anesthesiologists' professional work were found: 1) Give anaesthesia and control the patient's vital functions; 2) Help the patient, alleviate his/her pain and anxiety; 3) Give service to the whole hospital to facilitate the work of other doctors and nurses, caring for severely ill patients; and 4) Organize and direct the operation ward to make the operations list run smoothly. Conclusions: This study shows that anaesthetists understand their work in qualitatively different ways, which can be assumed to affect their work actions and also the way their competence develops. This has implications for the education of anaesthetists; it is important to find ways of making anaesthetists in training consciously aware of the different ways their work can be understood, as this will give them better prerequisites for future competence development.

  • Phenomenographic or phenomenological analysis: does it matter? : Examples from a study on anaesthesiologists' work

    Phenomenography is a research approach developed from an educational framework. However, practised in other areas this research approach can be misunderstood as seems to be the case in some reports on allegedly phenomenographic studies. In this article, the authors show how the phenomenographic approach differs from a phenomenological one, using as an example an interview study on anaesthesiologists' understanding of work. Having performed both a phenomenographic and a phenomenological analysis of the same transcripts, the researchers compared the results from the two approaches. The result of the phenomenographic study was four ways of understanding work: (a) monitoring and controlling the patient's vital functions; (b) guiding the patient safely through the operation; (c) serving patients, other doctors and nurses; (d) leading the operating theatre and team. The phenomenological analysis showed the essence of being an anaesthesiologist: Carrying the responsibility for the patient's vital functions; always being alert, watching carefully over the patient's body, ready to act whenever the patient's life is in danger, however difficult the circumstances. The authors discuss the differences between the two research approaches, stressing the value of phenomenographic studies in educational settings as well as its limited value in research on patients' experiences of illness.

  • Decision aid software programs in telenursing : Tot used as intended? Experiences of Swedish telenurses

    Telenurses at call centers use decision aid software programs to offer triage recommendations and self-care advice to the general public. Decision aid programs are intended to support medical safety but were suggested by telenurses to be a hindrance to the dialogue. The aim of this study was to explore the use of decision aid software programs for telenursing, from the perspective of the users. A qualitative, descriptive approach was used. Twelve telenurses in Sweden were interviewed twice. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed thematically. Four themes were found: support for assessment but not for the decision; inconsistency between actual practice and the decision aid software; limited support for learning and information; and communication challenges and software programs. The software programs were a support for assessment, rather than decision-making, assuring the nurses that the relevant questions were asked. They were not fully adapted to current clinical practice, focusing mainly on acute conditions. Nurses worked to a large extent with self-care advice, often over-riding the recommendations made.

  • Stressful threats or stimulating challenges : how experienced anaesthetists cope with difficult situations at work
  • Living in a state of suspension - a phenomenological approach to the spouse's experience of oral cancer

    The consequences of oral cancer may affect not only the patient, but also their spouses, as the mouth is vital for communication, social interaction and nutrition. Treatment is complex, lengthy and involves a large number of medical and dental professionals. During the treatment of oral cancer spouses are often present when the patients meet the treatment team. While nursing and medical staff have experience of meeting both patients and spouses, dental teams may not. The aim of this phenomenological study was to describe oral cancer and its treatment as experienced by the patient's spouses. A purposeful sample of seven spouses was interviewed. The existentials of lived relations, lived body and lived space and time were used as interpretive means in analysing the data to illuminate the spouses' everyday experiences during treatment. The findings reveal that the experience of lived relations changes from being spouse to supportive carer, the lived body is neglected and lived space and time becomes restricted. The essence of their lived experience can be described as living in a state of suspension. This knowledge may be useful in the education and organization of supportive communication for multiprofessional caregivers.

  • Balint groups as a means to increase job satisfaction and prevent burnout among general practitioners

    PURPOSE: General practitioners (GPs) occupy a central position in health care and often have demanding working situations. This corps shows signs of exhaustion, and many consider quitting their job or plan to retire early. It is therefore urgent to find ways of improving GP's satisfaction with their work. One approach might be Balint group participation. The aim of this study was to explore GPs' experience of participating in Balint groups and its influence on their work life. METHODS: We conducted a descriptive, qualitative study. Nine GPs who had participated in Balint groups for 3 to 15 years were interviewed. A phenomenologic analysis was carried out to describe the phenomenon of Balint group participation. RESULTS: The GPs perceived that their Balint group participation influenced their work life. Analyses revealed several interrelating themes: competence, professional identity, and a sense of security, which increased through parallel processes, creating a base of endurance and satisfaction, thus enabling the GPs to rediscover the joy of being a physician. CONCLUSIONS: The GPs in this study described their Balint group participation as beneficial and essential to their work life as physicians in several ways. It seemed to increase their competence in patient encounters and enabled them to endure in their job and find joy and challenge in their relationships with patients. Balint groups might thus help GPs handle a demanding work life and prevent burnout. These groups might not suit all GPs, however, and additional ways to reduce stress and increase job satisfaction should be offered.

  • "Limit work to here and now" : A focus group study on how emergency physicians view their work in relation to patients' drug treatment

    Patients come to the emergency department (ED) with complex medication and some patients present symptoms of adverse drug effects. Drug treatment is a complex process for physicians to handle. The aim of this study was to explore how a group of ED physicians view their work in relation to patients’ drug treatment. Three semi-structured focus group discussions with 12 physicians in an ED in Sweden were conducted and analysed thematically. The core theme was ‘‘limit work to here and now’’. Three descriptive themes were identified in relation to the main theme; (1) focussing to cope with work; (2) decision making on limited patient-specific information; and (3) actively seeking learning moments. The findings show that the physicians actively seek learning moments in work. Signing their own notes in the computerized medical record is a way of getting feedback on the treatment they have initiated and it was seen as a large part of their clinical education. If we want to support the physicians with new technology for safer drug treatment, such as a computerized drug prescribing support system, the support system should be adapted to the different learning styles and needs.

  • Response to commentary by Sarah Winch on Holmström I & Höglund AT : The faceless encounter: ethical dilemmas in telephone nursing
  • Burdened by training not by anaesthesia
  • "It's easier to talk to a woman" - aspects of gender in Swedish telenursing

    Aim. To describe and explore gender aspects in telenursing as experienced by Swedish telenurses.

    Background. Telenurses at call centres in Sweden offer triage recommendations and self-care advice to the general public over the telephone, on a wide range of health problems. The demands on telenurses are multifaceted and competence is needed in many fields such as nursing, pharmacology, psychology and communication. Previous studies have shown that telenurses encounter many ethical dilemmas and that some of these are to do with gender related issues. Most telenurses, as well as most callers, are women. It is, therefore, reasonable to believe that gender plays an important role in the work of telenurses.

    Design. Descriptive and explorative qualitative design.

    Methods. A purposive sample of 12 female telenurses in Sweden participated in in-depth interviews twice during 2004–2005. The transcribed interviews were analysed inductively with a stepwise thematic method.

    Results. Five themes emerged from the interviews, namely: female subordination in the family, disrespect in dialogue with female nurses, distrust in fathers' competence, reluctant male callers and woman-to-woman connection.

    Conclusions. Gender construction and cultural gender norms seem to be at work in the encounter between Swedish telenurses and callers. Questions of power relations, the picture of the mother/woman as the primary carer for small children and distrusting men in their parental role were particularly highlighted.

    Relevance to clinical practice. Telenurses should be aware of the risk of stereotyping their dialogues with callers in a way that seems to fit better with female callers' ways of communicating. Clinical supervision based on reflective practice and peer reviews of calls might diminish this risk. Telenurses also need more training in handling overt or covert power messages based on male superiority.

  • Ethical issues in telenursing

    Telenursing in healthcare brings advantages for both patients and personnel: for example, the improvement of resource- and time allocation and access for patients. However, this technique might also entail ethical difficulties. In this article a range of ethical aspects that are particularly challenging intelenursing are discussed.

  • Computerized decision support systems in telenursing : how it is perceived by telenurses

    Telephone advice nursing (telenursing) is an expanding service in many Western countries and in recent year’s centralization of telenursing services has occurred in some countries. Telenursing is a complex and knowledge intensive health service were registered nurses (RN’s) individually triage callers need for further care, give self care advice or refer the caller to appropriate care giver. These telenurses have numerous patient encounters every day, regarding all ages of callers and questions presented to the telenurses addresses a broad variation of medical conditions.  

    Telenursing has shown to be appreciated by the population as well as cost efficient.

     In an attempt to ensure quality and safety within telenursing the use of computerized decision support systems (CDSS) increased since CDSS enables uniformity and consistency of advices given to callers.   

    Traditionally, telenurses have relied on clinical knowledge, collegial support and books when triaging callers and few studies describe how telenurses perceive CDSS in their daily work.

    Eight telenurses from three different telephone advice call centres, all using CDSS took part in semi-structured interviews in 2006. Data were analysed using qualitative content analysis.

    The aim of the study was to describe telenurses experiences of working with CDSS. Telenurses described that the CDSS had both positive and negative influences of their work. They described that the CDSS simplified their work, complemented their knowledge and gave them a sense of security. They also described how the CDSS contributed to quality improvement of telenursing. The negative aspects of the CDSS were described as being inhibited by the system. Telenurses described how they perceived the system as partly incomplete and controlling and that they sometimes disagreed with the measures presented by the system.

    These advantages and disadvantages perceived within the system can be connected to the concepts of usability: user-worthiness and user-friendliness. Software should be easy to learn, contain few errors and be easy to orient in, to enhance usability. Hence usability could be further improved in the present system.

    There might be a risk that the CDSS will mechanize and undermine the communication between callers and telenurses. It is important, in order to increase the telenurses’ professional competence and the feeling of tele-presence that callers not only are given a correct estimation of their conditions but also a sense of security and confirmation. Otherwise callers may seek emergency care solely because of insecurity and anxiety.

  • Making new meanings of being in the world after treatment for oral cancer.

    When the mouth is affected by cancer, difficulties in satisfying basic human needs such as eating, tasting, swallowing, and speaking might arise, and the existential significance of the mouth might become obvious. How does it feel to live with these difficulties? What does it mean to be a human being living with the consequences of oral cancer? Five patients with oral cancer were interviewed a median time of 4 years after the beginning of treatment. A hermeneutic research approach was used to understand, explain, and interpret the transcribed interviews and showed how the consequences of oral cancer affected the being-in-the-world of the participants in three ways: existing as oneself, existing in the eyes of others, and existing with others. Against the background of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, these findings illuminate how essential the mouth is to a human being's identity and existence.

  • Telenurses' understanding of work : detective or educator?

    AIM This paper is a report of a study to describe the different ways of understanding work among a group of Swedish telenurses.

    BACKGROUND Telenursing is an expanding service in many western countries and telenursing work is likely to be understood in a variety of ways. The way in which a person understands work influences how work is performed. Telenursing demands high levels of competence.

    METHOD A qualitative interview study was conducted during 2004-2005. Twelve of the 20 telenurses working at a call centre in Sweden were interviewed, five of them twice because of organizational changes. The 17 interviews were analysed using a phenomenographic approach.

    FINDINGS Five different categories were identified in the data: (1) Assess, refer and give advice to the caller (2) Support the caller (3) Strengthen the caller (4) Teach the caller and (5) Facilitate the caller's learning. The first category can be seen as a base for telenursing work and was the only category used by some telenurses. The second category has components of traditional caring and the third is a coaching function. The fourth category contains a teaching component, but the fifth is the only category where the caller's learning is in focus. Telenurses who reported the fifth way also included all other ways of understanding work. Hence, this seems to be the most comprehensive way of understanding work.

    CONCLUSION The categories together constitute a telenursing 'workmap'. This 'workmap' can be used for reflection to expand telenurses' current understanding of work, and hence promote competence development. Telenurses need to be aware of their role in public health education.

  • Telenurses’ experiences of working with computerized decisionsupport : supporting, inhibiting and quality improving
  • The meaning of rehabilitation for older people who have survived stroke

    Aim. To explore the meaning of rehabilitation to older, Swedish stroke survivors, from the time of the acute stroke to the end of the rehabilitation.

    Background. Many people who are stroke survivors do not resume social activities even though they have regained physical functions. However, the contents of stroke rehabilitation seems to depend on whether rehabilitation is understood from the disease perspective or the illness perspective contained in the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. This in turn may determine the kind of rehabilitation offered to survivors.

    Design. Inductive, qualitative interview study undertaken during 2003.

    Method. Nineteen Swedish stroke survivors were interviewed twice, and the interviews were analysed using a Grounded Theory approach.

    Findings. To the older survivors, the meaning of rehabilitation was social reintegration. To achieve this they tried to regain lost physical and cognitive functions, relations (including play activities, everyday narratives and self-esteem) and lost certainty. The survivors needed to regain their ability to be not only to perform social activities. However, their rehabilitation ended when its focus turned to impairments found in the illness experiences of the survivors. The survivors developed their own cognitive and behavioural strategies for overcoming these kinds of obstacles to their social reintegration.

    Conclusion. Older, Swedish stroke survivors strive for a socially integrated life. Unacknowledged impairments experienced from the illness perspective of the survivors and the survivors’ own rehabilitation strategies should therefore be considered in their rehabilitation.

    Relevance to clinical practice. Stroke survivors need support from professionals who can understand and acknowledge the illness perspective of rehabilitation. Professionals should be able to understand how to facilitate the cognitive and behavioural strategies found in survivors’ illness narratives. In order to socially reintegrate, survivors’ rehabilitation should be transferred to the places where they have previously performed play activities together with family and friends.

  • Variations in understanding the drug-prescribing process : a qualitative study among Swedish GPs

    BACKGROUND: A majority of doctor-patient meetings result in the patient getting a prescription. This underlines the need for a high-quality prescription process. While studies have been made on single therapeutic drug groups, a complete study of the physicians' general thought process that comprises the prescription of all drugs still remains to be made. OBJECTIVE: To identify variations in ways of understanding drug prescribing among GPs. METHODS: A descriptive qualitative study was conducted with 20 Swedish physicians. Informants were recruited purposively and their understandings about prescribing were studied in semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed using a phenomenographic approach. RESULTS: Five categories were identified as follows: (A) GP prescribed safe, reliable and well-documented drugs for obvious complaints; (B) GP sought to convince the patient of the most effective drug treatment; (C) GP chose the best drug treatment taking into consideration the patient's entire life situation; (D) GP used clinical judgement and close follow-up to minimize unnecessary drug prescribing and (E) GP prescribed drugs which are cheap for society and environmentally friendly. The categories are interrelated, but have different foci: the biomedical, the patient and the society. Each GP had more than one view but none included all five. The findings also indicate that complexity increases when a drug is prescribed for primary or secondary prevention. CONCLUSIONS: GPs understand prescribing differently despite similar external circumstances. The most significant factor to influence prescribing behaviour was the physician's patient relation approach. GPs may need to reflect on difficulties they face while prescribing to enhance their understandings.

  • Incident reporting in nurse-led national telephone triage in Sweden : the reported errors reveal a pattern that needs to be broken

    We conducted a retrospective study of incident reports concerning the national, nurse-led telephone triage system in Sweden. The Swedish Health Care Direct organization (SHD) is staffed by registered nurses who act as telenurses and triage the callers' need for care, using a computerized decision support system. Data were collected during 2007 from all county councils that participated in the SHD and were analysed using content analysis. Incident reports were then compared concerning differences in reported categories and who reported the errors. The 426 incident reports included 452 errors. Of the analysed incident reports, 41% concerned accessibility problems, 25% incorrect assessment, 15% routines/guidelines, 13% technical problems and 6% information and communication. The most frequent outgoing incident reports (i.e. sent from SHD to other health-care providers) concerned accessibility problems and the most frequently incoming reports (i.e. sent to SHD from other health-care providers) concerned incorrect assessment. There was a significant difference (P < 0.001) between outgoing and incoming reports regarding the main category. Telenurses have limited possibilities for referring the caller to their primary health-care provider or specialist, which may cause them to over-triage or under-triage the callers' need for care. This over-triage or under-triage may in turn cause other health-care providers to report incorrect assessment to SHD. The implications for practice are that poor accessibility is a matter that should be addressed and that the reasons for incorrect assessment should be explored.

  • Stroke patients' delay of emergency treatment

    Treatment of stroke victims with fibrinolysis should take place within a time limit of 3 hours. In spite of comprehensive endeavours to reduce hospital arrival time, too many patients still delay arrival beyond this time limit. This qualitative case study explored the meaning of acute stroke and treatment to four patients with more than 24-hour delayed arrival. The setting of the study was the catchment area of a university hospital. Semi-structured interviews were analysed through the empirical psychological, phenomenological method. An essence was found which was constituted by four themes. The essence of stroke symptoms and treatment was: 'Threatened control of bodily function, autonomy and integrity'. When the patients fell ill they acted as if nothing had happened. They treated their body like a defective device. In encounters with physicians they demanded to be met as a person by a person; otherwise they rejected both the physician and her or his prescriptions. They did not involve their near ones in decision-making. The conclusions were the following: Health care information about how to act in cases of early stroke symptoms may need to imbue people with an understanding of how early treatment of neurological symptoms and preserved control of life are intimately connected. Furthermore emergency care of acute stroke patients might need to take place in an organisation where patients are sure to be met by physicians as a person by a person.

  • Whose job is it anyway? : Swedish general practitioners' perception of their responsibility for the patient's drug list

    PURPOSE Information about the patient's current drug list is a prerequisite for safe drug prescribing. The aim of this study was to explore general practitioners' (GPs) understandings of who is responsible for the patient's drug list so that drugs prescribed by different physicians do not interact negatively or even cause harm. The study also sought to clarify how this responsibility was managed. METHODS We conducted a descriptive qualitative study among 20 Swedish physicians. We recruited the informants purposively and captured their view on responsibility by semistructured interviews. Data were analyzed using a phenomenographic approach. RESULTS We found variation in understandings about who is responsible for the patient's drug list and, in particular, how the GPs use different strategies to manage this responsibility. Five categories emerged: (1) imposed responsibility, (2) responsible for own prescriptions, (3) responsible for all drugs, (4) different but shared responsibility, and (5) patient responsible for transferring drug information. The relation between categories is illustrated in an outcome space, which displays how the GPs reason in relation to managing drug lists. CONCLUSIONS The understanding of the GP's responsibility for the patient's drug list varied, which may be a threat to safe patient care. We propose that GPs are made aware of variations in understanding responsibility so that health care quality can be improved.

  • The relation between patient-centeredness and patient empowerment : a discussion on concepts

    Objective: The concepts of patient-centeredness and patient empowerment offer opportunities for patients to increase their autonomy and involvement in their care and treatment. However, these concepts appear to be understood in different ways by professional groups involved in healthcare and research. To optimize understanding there is a need to create a common language. To explore and compare the concepts of patient-centeredness and patient empowerment, and clarify a possible relationship between the two from the perspective of the encounter between patients and their healthcare providers. Methods: Concept analysis approach in which the concepts are compared based on literature review. Results: Patient-centeredness can be the goal of an encounter between patient and caregiver. As a process, it is of great value in the process of patient empowerment. Patient empowerment appears to be broader than patient-centeredness, and may place greater demands on caregivers and the organisation of healthcare. Conclusion: Patient-centeredness and patient empowerment are complementary concepts which do not oppose one-another. Patient empowerment can be achieved by patient-centeredness, but patients can also empower themselves. Practice implications: Clarification of patient-centeredness and patient empowerment can facilitate their use by those involved in healthcare, improve the quality of healthcare, and aid future research. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

  • Paediatric health calls to Swedish telenurses : a descriptive study of content and outcome

    We collected data about telephone triage calls concerning children in Sweden. A sample of 110 paediatric calls were recorded. The transcribed data were analysed regarding word count, reasons for calling, results of calls, ages and gender of children, and gender of parents. The median call length was 4.4 min and the median child's age was 3.5 years. Mothers made 73% of calls, but mothers and fathers called to the same extent about daughters and sons, and regardless of age. The most common reasons for calls were ear problems, rash/wound or fever. In nearly half the calls, the telenurses provided self-care advice. Call length, word count or caller's part of word count did not differ according to gender of parents or children. However, mothers were more likely to receive self-care advice while fathers were more often referred to other health services by the telenurses. Telenurses might need to improve their gender competence, and more male telenurses in the service would potentially be beneficial to callers.

  • Difficulties in Balint groups : a qualitative study of leaders' experiences

    Background Balint groups (BGs) are a means of enhancing competence in the physician-patient relationship and are also regarded as beneficial for GPs' mental health. However, voluntary BGs are still few, some members terminate their participation, and problems are reported in obligatory groups in residency programmes. This raises questions about possible negative aspects of BGs. Aim To examine difficulties in BGs as experienced by BG leaders. Design of study Qualitative study using interviews. Setting Eight BG leaders from five countries were interviewed. Method The interviews focused on the informants' experiences' of difficulties in their groups and were analysed with a systematic text-condensation method. Results Three categories of difficulties emerged from the analysis: 1) the individual physician having needs, vulnerabilities, and defences; 2) the group (including the leader) having problems of hidden agendas, rivalries, and frames; and 3) the surrounding environment defining the conditions of the group. BGs were found to fit into modern theories of small groups as complex systems. They are submitted to group dynamics that are sometimes malicious, and are exposed to often tough environmental conditions. Conclusion Professionally conducted BGs seem to be a gentle, efficient method to train physicians, but with limitations. Participation of a member demands psychological stability and an open mind. BGs need support from the leadership of healthcare organisations in order to exist.

  • Diabetes telehealth and computerized decision support systems : a sound system with a human touch is needed

    Telehealth holds the promise of improved consistency and fast and equal access to care, and will have great impact on future care. To enhance its quality and safety, computerized decision support systems (CDSS) have been launched. This commentary focuses specifically on the impact of telehealth and CDSS on diabetes patient management. Ideally, clinical information should be linked to evidence based recommendations and guidelines in the CDSS to provide tailored recommendations at the moment of care. However, technical support such as CDSS is not enough. The human touch is essential. A named healthcare provider with access to telehealth and CDSS seems to promise a way of providing both patient-centered and evidence-based care.

  • Triage and patient satisfaction among callers in Swedish computer-supported telephone advice nursing

    We investigated satisfaction with a Swedish telenursing service and the health-care-seeking behaviour among callers who received a less urgent level of health care than they expected. A postal questionnaire was sent to a random selection of callers (n = 273) to Swedish Healthcare Direct in October 2008. The 'cases' were 18 callers where the telenurse recommended a lower level of health care than the caller expected and who were not in complete agreement with the nurse. The 'controls' were 22 callers who either received a lower recommendation, or were in disagreement with the recommendation. There were no differences between cases, controls and other callers regarding background factors or the telenurse classification of emergency. However, both cases and controls considered their need for health care as more urgent than the other callers. An independent test of the nurses' reception, ability to listen and to take notice of the callers' health problem, showed that nurses who had served cases, had received a significantly lower rating than other nurses. For nurses who had served controls, there was no such difference in rating. Cases and controls had fewer subsequent care visits than other callers, in the three days following the call, although the proportion of emergency visits was higher among cases and controls compared to other callers. If the caller and the nurse disagree about the nurse's recommendations, the consequence can be a dissatisfied caller and more visits to unnecessary high levels of health care. Further training of the nurses may improve the telenurse service.

  • Organising vocational rehabilitation through interorganisational integration – a case study in Sweden

    This study describes and analysis five years of experiences from organising an interorganisational project on vocational rehabilitation. A qualitative case study approach was used based on interviews, focus group discussions and documents. The aim was to analyse how and why the project was organised in the way it was in relation to theories of integration, organisational change and learning. The results show that the vocational rehabilitation project was initiated mainly for financial reasons. It was organised as a mechanistic system with the aim of producing different activities, where financial control and support from all the levels of the organisations involved was important. A new bureaucracy between the different authorities involved was built up, where the vertical (top-down) integration was more important than the horizontal. The result was scattered islands of interprofessional work in different teams, but without contacts between them. The project did not influence the processes or workflows of the organisations involved in the project, which would be important from a service-user perspective. It may therefore be questionnable to organise the development of interorganisational integration for vocational rehabilitation in a separate project organisation. Instead, interorganisational networks with focus on interconnections of processes and workflows may be more flexible and adaptable.

  • Triage and patient satisfaction among callers in Swedish computer supported telephone advice nursing

    We investigated satisfaction with a Swedish telenursing service and the health-care-seeking behaviour among callers who received a less urgent level of health care than they expected. A postal questionnaire was sent to a random selection of callers (n = 273) to Swedish Healthcare Direct in October 2008. The 'cases' were 18 callers where the telenurse recommended a lower level of health care than the caller expected and who were not in complete agreement with the nurse. The 'controls' were 22 callers who either received a lower recommendation, or were in disagreement with the recommendation. There were no differences between cases, controls and other callers regarding background factors or the telenurse classification of emergency. However, both cases and controls considered their need for health care as more urgent than the other callers. An independent test of the nurses' reception, ability to listen and to take notice of the callers' health problem, showed that nurses who had served cases, had received a significantly lower rating than other nurses. For nurses who had served controls, there was no such difference in rating. Cases and controls had fewer subsequent care visits than other callers, in the three days following the call, although the proportion of emergency visits was higher among cases and controls compared to other callers. If the caller and the nurse disagree about the nurse's recommendations, the consequence can be a dissatisfied caller and more visits to unnecessary high levels of health care. Further training of the nurses may improve the telenurse service.

  • Creating a new profession in cancer nursing? : Experiences of working as a psychosocial nurse in cancer care

    AIMS: To describe the nature of being a psychosocial nurse in cancer care.

    BACKGROUND: Psychosocial nurses in cancer care are a new profession in cancer nursing in Sweden, with potential to offer unique support to patients regarding somatic and psychological needs. This new profession is hitherto unexplored.

    DESIGN: A qualitative inductive interview approach was used.

    METHODS: A strategic sample of five nurses working as psychosocial nurses in cancer care in Sweden was interviewed. A thematic stepwise analysis was performed.

    RESULTS: The analysis revealed the twofold experience of being a psychosocial nurse in cancer care. The nurses felt as if they had two professions: nurse and therapist. They used skills from both professions to help the person, who had cancer and a psychosocial problem. It was stimulating to be able to combine the knowledge and practices of two professions. It was also difficult because they felt an uncertainty about what their roles and responsibilities really were.

    CONCLUSIONS: This new profession seems to need role descriptions and formal education so that psychosocial nurses receive respect and appreciation in their new and relatively unknown work in cancer care. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICES: The adjustment to the cancer disease and treatment side effects can be difficult for the patients and their families, which has highlighted the need for psychosocial support. To meet this need the health care system has to provide such support. Nurses are available and can be successfully educated to handle psychosocial problems among cancer patients. A new profession among nurses is emerging, which the present study aimed at describing. The present findings have potential to make healthcare professionals grasp what the core of psychosocial cancer nursing is, as well as its potential and pitfalls.

  • Understanding anaesthesia training and trainees

    Purpose of review: Patient safety is topical today. Competent professionals are necessary to keep anesthesia care safe, and teaching trainees is an important element in safety work. The purpose of this review is to present the latest research on anesthesia training and trainees. Recent findings: Most trainees of today aim for excellence, for which personal qualities are as important as knowledge and skills. The definition of excellence is the first subject covered here. Trainees of today can train many procedural skills in a simulators setting, a step forward for patient safety. Several studies about simulator training are reported. A dimension of competence that has received much attention during the last years is anesthesiologists' nontechnical skills. Studies on anesthesiologists' nontechnical skills as a valuable tool for assessing trainees' progress in nontechnical skills are presented. Summary: Much research about anesthesia training concerns simulator training and assessment of trainees' competence. More research is needed to understand the process of learning anesthesia.

  • 'If I didn’t trust Swedish Healthcare Direct, I would never call' – views of making pediatric health calls.

    The focus of the presented research is parents’ expectations and experiences of calling Swedish Healthcare Direct (SHD) regarding pediatric health issues. Telenursing is a rapidly expanding service and SHD handles up to 2.4 million pediatric health calls yearly. Mothers make the majority of the calls and reportedly receive self-care advice more than fathers. Parents’ views are important for the development and safe use of telenursing health services. The study is qualitative, with an exploratory and descriptive design. Twenty-one interviews with parents were analysed using content analysis. According to the interviewees, the decision to contact SHD or not is influenced by their degree of worry or trust in the service. Calls are carefully prepared, and who will call is often predetermined and affected by gender. Parents want to be given a chance to speak first in their communication with telenurses. They want to be listened to carefully and to be accorded respect, to have their needs fully explored and to have their concerns relieved. Most parents follow telenurses’ recommendations, a few exclusively. Some primarily trust their own intuition. Learning is frequent, implying the public health potential of calls, not least for foreign-born callers. Exploring parents’ expectations provides insight into parents’ worries, potential to increase parents’ learning and may develop their trust in telenurses’ recommendations. Telenurses’ awareness of gender impact can further develop the telenursing health service in providing safe care on equal terms for a vulnerable patient group, children.

  • How excellent anaesthetists perform in the operating theatre : a qualitative study on non-technical skills

    Background Teaching trainees to become competent professionals who can keep the complex system of anaesthesia safe is important. From a safety point of view, non-technical skills such as smooth cooperation and good communication deserve as much attention as theoretical knowledge and practical skills, which by tradition have dominated training programmes in anaesthesiology. This study aimed to describe the way excellent anaesthetists act in the operating theatre, as seen by experienced anaesthesia nurses.                                                                                                     

    Methods The study had a descriptive and qualitative design. Five focus group interviews with three or four experienced Swedish anaesthesia nurses in each group were conducted. Interviews were analysed by using a qualitative method, looking for common themes.                                                                                                                  

    Results Six themes were found: (A) structured, responsible, and focused way of approaching work tasks; (B) clear and informative, briefing the team about the action plan before induction; (C) humble to the complexity of anaesthesia, admitting own fallibility; (D) patient-centred, having a personal contact with the patient before induction; (D) fluent in practical work without losing overview; and (F) calm and clear in critical situations, being able to change to a strong leading style.                                                                                                                  

    Conclusions Experienced anaesthesia nurses gave nuanced descriptions of how excellent anaesthetists behave and perform. These aspects of the anaesthetist's work often attract too little attention in specialist training, notwithstanding their importance for safety and fluency at work. Creating role models based on studies like the present one could be one way of increasing safety in anaesthesia.   

  • Threats to patient safety in telenursing as revealed in Swedish telenurses’ reflections on their dialogues

    Telenursing is a rapidly expanding actor in the Swedish healthcare system, as in other Western nations. Although rare, tragic events occur within this context, and are reminders of the importance of giving patient safety the highest priority. As telenurses' main sources of information are their dialogues with the callers, the provision of safe care can depend on the quality of this dialogue. The aim of this study was to identify issues that could threaten patient safety in telenurses' dialogues with callers. As part of an educational intervention, a researcher visited a sample of six telenurses five to six times at their workplace to listen to and discuss, together with the telenurses, their dialogues with callers in stimulated recall sessions. Each call and the following discussion between researcher and telenurse was tape-recorded and transcribed as text, resulting in a total of 121 calls. Qualitative content analysis of the reflections and following discussions revealed that threats to patient safety could be related to the surrounding society, to the organisation of telenursing, to the telenurse and to the caller. This study gives insight into significant problem areas that can affect patient safety in telenursing in Sweden. Issues that need to be focused on in telenursing educational programmes and future research are suggested, as well as the need for organisational development. 

  • Involving patients in treatment decisions – a delicate balancing act for Swedish dentists
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