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Patients’ complaints about negative interactions with health professionals

Eva Jangland, Jan Larsson, Maria Carlsson, Lena Gunningberg


The aim of this study was to describe the experiences of patients who complain about negative interactions with health professionals in a surgical setting. The study was based on interviews with patients (n = 15) who had contacted their local Patients’ Advisory Committee to report their negative interaction with health professionals in a large university hospital in Sweden. Exploring the experiences of patients who report negative interactions may be a starting point for learning about the patients’ views of the health care organisation, and this information may contribute to quality improvement. The interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Patients’ experiences of negative interactions are described under three main themes: ‘having lost confidence’, ‘feeling like a nuisance’ and ‘feeling abandoned and lonely’. Negative interactions with health professionals caused long-term consequences for patients, including suffering, insecurity, and worry. It also reduced their confidence in upcoming consultations. From the patients’ perspective a caring relationship with health professionals and reliable, appropriate, and timely information are vital to high quality care. Patient access to information and positive interactions with health professionals should be routine quality indicators in the surgical care unit. In the process of quality improvement, all health professionals need to be involved in setting goals, making small tests of changes, and evaluating outcomes. Patients’ stories of negative interactions could provide the impetus for professional reflection sessions in the surgical care unit and for education for all health professionals to develop new competence in patient relations

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