A companionship between strangers: -the hospital environment as a challenge in patient-patient interaction in oncology wards

Lene Søndergaard Larsen, Birte Hedegaard Larsen, Regner Birkelund

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Aim. To present an identification and discussion of the impact of the hospital environment on interaction among cancer patients.
Background. In recent years, researchers have focused on identifying and describing features of the hospital environment which promote healing, recovery and well-being. It has been discovered that architectural features affect hospitalised patients both positively and negatively. But the research has failed to include fellow patients as part of the hospital environment.
Method. A qualitative approach inspired by ethnography with participant observation and individual qualitative interviews was used to collect data. From a total of 85 observed cancer patients, ten men and ten women were interviewed. Data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.
Findings. Patients had ambiguous views regarding their fellow patients and the hospital environment. The hospital environment imposed conditions that caused stress factors such as the loss of personal privacy and control; but it also offered the possibility of good company and support from fellow patients. Refuge from fellow patients was hard to achieve, and the fact that personal conversations might be overheard by fellow patients caused patients to withhold important information from healthcare professionals. Nevertheless, patients accepted the hospital environment uncritically, with resignation or with silent rebellion. Despite the challenges, 18 out of 20 patients preferred multiple-bed rooms with the company of fellow patients.
Conclusion. The influence of the hospital environment on hospitalised cancer patients and their interpersonal interaction needs to be acknowledged by healthcare professionals. In addition, evidence-based hospital design must include research into patient preferences and arguments. Further investigation is needed.
TidsskriftJournal of Advanced Nursing
Sider (fra-til)395-404
StatusUdgivet - 2013


  • patienter