Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/3181
Solitary struggle : getting back to normal : surgical patients lived experiences that are managing their recovery period at home
Today's trend is to have the surgical patient return to the comfort of his or her home,
rather than remaining in hospital for nursing and medical care. Thus they are at home in
their own environment when recovering from surgery. This is also seen as highly cost-
effective and convenient for the patient. It is therefore very important to understand
how these patients cope in their recovery period, in order to improve the care and
preparation of other patients for recovery at home without any assistance from the
health-care system. Better understanding and further knowledge in this field helps
nurses to bridge the gap between hospital nursing care and home- or self-care.
The purpose of the study is to learn how Icelandic individuals experienced their
recovery at home without the guidance or assistance of health-care givers after surgical
procedures and less than 48 hours’ stay at a surgical unit.
The co-researchers numbered fourteen, from three different hospitals. They ranged in
age from 28 to 73 years, both male and female. They had different operations.
However, the common factor was that they all stayed less than 48 hours in the surgical
The phenomenological perspective within the paradigm of qualitative research was
chosen to achieve the purpose of the study and in-depth dialogues were used with the
dialogue partners. The guidance of the methodology of the Vancouver School of Doing
Phenomenology, which is a unique blend of description, interpretation, explication and
construction, was utilized in analysing the data.
The over-riding theme ‘solitary struggle – getting back to normal’ was constructed
together with four sub-themes from the data, ‘the solitary struggle,’ ‘the sense of
insecurity,’ ‘communication or lack of communication’ and ‘recovery – toward the
usual self’. The findings are described using quotations from the co-researchers.
The findings revealed that the co-researchers were determined to manage on their own
in their convalescence. Information leaflets addressed the operation period very well,
but they were not deemed to contain guidance on dealing with daily life after returning
home, which led to a sense of insecurity. The short stay at the unit meant that there was
little scope for bonding with staff. Therefore co-researchers preferred to consult others
than the surgical unit if they required guidance later on. The co-researchers were in
agreement that it took time to recover from the surgery. However, most of them had
unrealistic expectations of being more active shortly after returning home, as the short
hospital stay led them to believe that the operation was more minor than it actually was.
Revision of discharge instructions is recommended as a result of the study: the
instructions would be individualised and printed out prior to discharge for each patient.
Limitations are addressed, as well as implications for nursing practice, education and
nursing research, and further studies.