A review of contemporary nursing research reveals a tendency to focus on select aspects of the hospital environment such as noise, light, and music. Although studies such as these shed light on discrete aspects of the hospital environment, this body of literature contributes little to an understanding of the entirety of that world as the patient in the sickbed experiences it. The purpose of the study detailed in this article was to describe the patient’s experience of the acute care hospital environment. Nondirective, in-depth phenomenological interviews were conducted, then transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for themes. Against the backdrop of “I lived and that’s all that matters,” there were 3 predominant themes in patients’ experience of the acute care environment: (1) disconnection/connection, (2) fear/less fear, and (3) confinement/freedom. In this environment, human-to-human contact increased security and power in an environment that was described as sterile, disorienting, and untrustworthy. Acute and critical care nurses and other caregivers can use the findings to create less noxious hospital environments.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.