How nurses support self-management of hospitalized patients through verbal communication: a qualitative study

Caroline E.M. Otter*, Joost C. Keers, Celeste Reker, Jakobus Smit, Lisette Schoonhoven, Janneke M. de Man-van Ginkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Patients’ self-management of the implications of their disease(s) is becoming increasingly important. Research shows that hospitalization disrupts established self-management routines. Nurses can play an important role in supporting patients’ self-management. The aim of this study is to describe how nurses support the self-management of hospitalized patients through verbal communication during routine nursing care. Methods: A qualitative descriptive study, using overt, non-participant observations was conducted on three wards of a general teaching hospital in the Netherlands. A total of 215 hours of nursing work during 49 shifts was observed. Data was analyzed using thematic analysis based on the six phases of Braun and Clarke. Results: Our observations showed that nurses discuss patients’ self-management mainly in short conversations during the care provision. Nurses ask patients about their self-management at home and stimulate patients to express their opinions and to be involved in the care process. Three themes reflect how nurses support self-management: ‘Discussing patient’s self-management’, ‘Enhancing patient’s involvement in care’ and ‘Focusing on patient’s perspective’. Conclusion: Hospital nurses have methods to support hospitalized patients’ self-management but it does not seem to be an integral part of daily practice. Given current developments in healthcare, it is reasonable to argue that self-management should be given greater emphasis within the hospital setting, requiring a collaborative approach with patients and other healthcare professionals across the care continuum.

Original languageEnglish
Article number329
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2022


  • Hospital
  • Hospitalized adolescent
  • Observation
  • Qualitative study
  • Self-care
  • Self-management
  • Self-management support
  • Verbal communication


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