The subjective experience of psychiatric hospitalization : a case study approach
De la Rey, Mark Edward
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The aim of the research was to explore the subjective experience of patients admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Sub-aims were to explore how these experiences relate to self management, stress and psychological well-being. This study was motivated by research literature that documents a wide variety of negative experiences by patients. A recent psychiatric patient survey conducted in England and Wales (Mind, 2004) found that more than 50% of respondents indicated that hospital surroundings had not helped their recovery. In fact, close to a third of those thought that it had a detrimental effect on their health. Wood and Pistrang (2004) found that psychiatric patients often represent a lower status, marginalized group in society and thus their views are often not taken into account in mainstream research. These results, however, were overwhelmingly based on research conducted in an American or European context. The South African context is unique in the sense of our political, economic and social issues that influence people's perceptions. In relation to other developing and developed nations little research has been done. The research was conducted at a large Psychiatric hospital in Pretoria South Africa. An availability sample of five adults from the hospital was used. A qualitative case study method design was used. Data were obtained through interviews and analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (PA) (Smith, 1996; Smith et al., 1997, 1999) Using the IPA method the data was analysed to extract significant or relevant points related to the research topic. These themes were then collated with themes that occur in other accounts and from there tested against the hypothesised outcomes of the investigation. Positive experiences and negative experiences were identified as the main themes; these were each divided into sub themes. The negative experiences related primarily to interaction with hospital staff and -environment, while positive experiences primarily related to effective treatment. Implications of results are that patient experiences and perceptions may be more influential for long term psychological wellbeing than has been acknowledged by care givers within larger mental healthcare facilities. It was concluded that many if not all of the results of previous studies were confirmed. Additionally this study recognised that singular positive experiences may to a greater degree influence patients recovery and maintenance than a combination of negative experiences. Recommendations following from the findings include further studies to assess enhanced interpersonal skills training for nursing staff, and greater community based care facilities.
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