The meaning of significant encounters in forensic care [2020]

Research in forensic psychiatric care focusing on person‐oriented care is ambiguous about matters of quality. The encounters between a healthcare professional (HCP) and patient could influence how connections and relations emerge between the caregiver and the patient.

To better understand caring aspects, this study explores significant encounters in forensic psychiatric care from the perspective of HCPs.

This study is based on 34 written narratives from HCPs from two forensic psychiatric hospitals in Sweden. The narratives concern significant encounters with a patient. These narratives were analysed according to methodologies developed by phenomenological and reflective lifeworld research.

The essence of a significant encounter is a temporal extended phenomenon that both precedes as well as is a consequence of the actual encounter as it occurs. The encounter is unforeseeable and being open to an encounter also means to be vulnerable as it is not predetermined how someone will respond. The significant encounter is an act of sharing, and HCPs may come to understand more about their patients as well as about themselves. Moreover, these encounters seem to create repercussions and hope for the future care.

The everyday activities of forensic psychiatric care are not trivial activities. Rather, they are important aspects of health care as these everyday encounters can deepen the relationship between the HCPs and their patients and help both the HCPs and their patients develop a sense of hope for the future.

Patrik Rytterström, Kenneth Rydenlund, Albertine Ranheim
Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 20 July 2020