Complaints concerning communication reported by users of healthcare in a specific region in Sweden

Emina Hadziabdic, Gina Higginbottom


Introduction: Effective communication between patients and healthcare staff is important in all healthcare services. Previousstudies investigating criticism and complaints concerning treatment reported by patients and relatives in a healthcare context pointto the most common complaints were unsatisfactory information, unsatisfactory respect and unsatisfactory empathy, but furtherinvestigation is needed. Objective: The aim of this study was to explore complaints reported by patients and relatives in a countycouncil area in the context of communication between patients and healthcare staff, and to investigate the impact complaints canhave on the safety and quality of healthcare.

Methods: An exploratory descriptive design was used with a participatory approach. 115 complaints from patients and relatives,collected from various contexts relating to healthcare, were analyzed through qualitative content analysis.

Results: Four categories emerged from the analysis of complaints: 1) inadequate communication; 2) inadequate individualisticand holistic healthcare; 3) unprofessional attitude of healthcare staff; and 4) the complaints had both a negative and positiveimpact on the organization of healthcare. The study showed that complaints were related to a lack of adequate verbal and writtencommunication, the patients’ feelings that the healthcare staff did not taking their experiences seriously, and an unprofessional,indifferent and discriminatory attitude among the healthcare staff. The complaints had both a negative and positive impact on theorganization of healthcare.

Conclusions: This study highlights how it is possible to learn from complaints about healthcare, and demonstrates that this is aprerequisite for improving healthcare practice. Knowledge about where healthcare practice is failing can be increased, and thiscan be fed into policies for patient safety and quality healthcare.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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