Experiences of the psychiatric specialist health services – The perspective of relatives of inpatients with severe depression

Hege Skundberg-Kletthagen, Sigrid Wangensteen, Marie Louise Hall-Lord, Birgitta Hedelin


The aim of this study was to describe experiences of encountering the psychiatric specialist health services as a relative of an inpatient with severe depression. A qualitative and descriptive design using a phenomenographic approach was chosen. Twenty-four adult relatives, representing different ages, sex, level of education and relationship, were individually interviewed. Approval was given by the Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics, Norway (South East). Three descriptive categories emerged: Being in need of help, Being a resource and a participant and Being confident with the health care, with two conceptions each constituting the relatives’ experiences of the psychiatric specialist health services. When relatives perceive that their next of kin is more severely depressed than the health professionals indicate, they describe it as a battle to obtain help. Relatives have knowledge of - and experience with the depressed person, and wish to share this with the staff. The relatives describe uncertainty as to whether the patient received high-quality care due to varying competence levels among mental health personnel. In conclusion, relatives’ experiences and knowledge about the depressed person were not acknowledged as a matter of course. Thus, psychiatric specialist health services must take relatives' knowledge into account and initiate collaboration and support.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v5n2p117

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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