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The Psychological Impact of Nosocomial Infection: A Phenomenological Investigation of Patients’ Experiences of Clostridium difficile

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posted on 18.11.2011, 11:38 by Nicola Sarah Parker
Whilst the genesis and management of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is well represented in health literature, less attention has been given to patient experiences. The review of literature is a narrative synthesis of eight qualitative research studies focusing on patients’ experiences of healthcare associated infections. Results indicated that psychological needs of patients with iatrogenic infections are often inadequately addressed, and that patients’ experiences of iatrogenic infection were characterised by fears, worries, stress and guilt. Furthermore it highlighted inadequate information-giving practices, in some cases due to staff concerns about frightening patients, or because they assumed patients already knew they were infected. This impeded patient adjustment to infection, and may have consequently developed a double iatrogenic effect on those patients. The research report investigates patients’ experiences of hospital acquired Clostridium difficile using interpretative phenomenological analysis to interrogate interview data collected from six inpatient participants. Emergent themes were lack of information, psychological distress and concerns over possible future hospitalisation. Patients also reported observing poor adherence to hygiene protocol by hospital staff and anxiety about making complaints due to fear of possible reprisals. Results indicated that poor information sharing practices can inadvertently place an additional burden of anxiety and confusion on iatrogenically infected patients. Systems of staff training need more emphasis on explaining diagnoses and its implications for patients to mitigate some of these avoidable problems. Attention also needs to be paid to HAIs as deterrents of future engagement with health services, potentially putting patients’ health at risk. In reflecting on the process of conducting this research, the critical appraisal addresses several key areas of learning and development that have been pertinent for the author; these being reflections of epistemological and methodological issues throughout, consideration of aspects of researcher safety, a critique of the limitations of the study and proposals for future research.



Robertson, Noelle

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University of Leicester

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