Background: Delivering patient-centered care (PCC) is essential to our healthcare system. Patient dignity and respect are foundational elements of PCC. Understanding patients' and their care partner's perspectives on the meaning of dignity and respect within a clinical care environment is critical to achieving our goal of PCC.
Objective: The aim of the study was to understand how patients and their care partners define, describe, and experience dignity and respect during hospitalization.
Methods: We conducted a qualitative study with 22 patients and care partners hospitalized in high-acuity patient care areas in 1 academic medical center. Data collected from semistructured interviews were analyzed using grounded theory open coding in Atlas Ti software.
Results: Our data provide a definition of dignity and respect during hospitalization from the patient and care partner perspective and a conceptual model of the factors needed to enhance patients' and care partners' experience of dignity and respect in the hospital setting. Dignity was felt to be intrinsic to personhood including the recognition of that person's value by others. Respect was characterized as the behavioral or social norms that acknowledge dignity. Determinants of dignity and respect were categorized at the organizational (macro) level and within the microsystem between clinicians, patients, and their care partners.
Conclusions: The definition of dignity and respect and the conceptual model presented here represent an important supplement to our understanding of dignity and respect during hospitalization. Healthcare organizations should focus on the key factors found in this study to create a culture that treats patients with dignity and respect.
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