Patient Characteristics that Influence the Advocacy Role of Nurses in Ghana: A Qualitative Study
Study background: Several factors influence nurses to advocate for patients in the course of their work including particular patient characteristics. These characteristics however, are under reported in Ghana.
Methods: The objective of the study was to determine the patient characteristics that influence the advocacy role of nurses. Ethical approval was obtained from the appropriate bodies and the study employed a qualitative exploratory descriptive design. A sample size of 15 nurses working in a regional hospital in Ghana was used and the participants voluntarily consented to participate in the study. Data was collected using a semi-structured interview guide and analyzed using content analysis.
Results: The participants advocated for patients who were neglected, vulnerable, uninformed, intimidated and dissatisfied. They advocated for those whose relatives failed to provide them with food, drugs and care. The participants also advocated for unconscious patients, children and apathetic patients. Their advocacy was also sometimes geared towards the protection of patients from paternalism, the profit-oriented health system and the complexity of the health system. Additionally, they advocated for the poor, uninformed and anxious patients and those who were dissatisfied with their care.
Conclusion: The characteristics of patients that elicit nurses’ advocacy roles are diverse and may be context specific. The study provides an insight into patient characteristics which elicit nurses’ advocacy. Findings could be useful in enhancing the advocacy role of nurses to improve quality of care, patient satisfaction and patient autonomy.