Creating Trust in an Acute Psychiatric Ward

Nursing Ethics 15 (6):777-788 (2008)
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The ideal of trust pervades nursing. This article uses empirical material from acute psychiatry that reveals that it is distrust rather than trust that is prevalent in this field. Our data analyses show how distrust is expressed in the therapeutic environment and in the relationship between nurse and patient. We point out how trust can nonetheless be created in an environment that is characterized by distrust. Both trust and distrust are exposed as `fragile' phenomena that can easily `tip over' towards their opposites. Trust is not something that nurses possess or are given; it is rather something that they earn and have to work hard to achieve. Regarding themselves as potential causes of distrust and active wielders of power can contribute to nurses developing a more realistic view of their practice. Assuming a realistic middle-way perspective can help to manoeuvre between the extremities of excellence and resignation, which in turn can lead to processes that create trust between psychotic patients and nurses



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