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Patients' perception of dignity in Iranian healthcare settings: a qualitative content analysis


Purpose The importance of recognising patient dignity has been realised in recent years. Despite being a central phenomenon in medicine, dignity is a controversial concept, the definition of which in healthcare centres is influenced by a multitude of factors. The aim of this study was to explore the perspective of Iranian patients on respect for their dignity in healthcare centres.

Methods With the use of purposeful sampling, 20 patients were interviewed over an 11-month period in three educational hospitals affiliated with the government. They were questioned about experiences related to respect for their dignity during their hospital encounter. Data were processed by qualitative content analysis.

Results Data analysis identified nine categories and four themes. Respondents expressed their expectations and attitudes about dignity by the following themes: seeking a haven; disrespecting privacy; communicating in a vacuum; and disregard for secondary caregivers. They described how respect for their privacy, effective communication, access to facilities, and a regard for the requirements of their companions made them feel that their dignity had been conserved.

Conclusions The findings indicate that almost no patient is satisfied with the quality of services with respect to maintenance of their dignity. Regardless of their hospital location and state of health, most participants had common complaints. These findings agree with the literature and confirm that grounds should be provided for conserving dignity in the healthcare system. To reach this goal, healthcare professionals should be aware of the factors that violate or preserve dignity from the patient's perspective.

  • Patient dignity
  • qualitative approach
  • human rights
  • healthcare settings
  • content analysis
  • moral psychology
  • clinical ethics
  • concept of mental health
  • applied and professional ethics
  • behavioural research
  • education for healthcare professionals
  • education/programs
  • health promotion

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