Patients' autonomy in surgical care: A comparison of nurses' perceptions in five European countries

Riitta Suhonen, Maritta Anneli Vaelimaeki, T. Dassen, M. Gasull, C. Lemonidou, P. A. Scott, A. Kaljonen, M. Arndt, H. Leino-Kilpi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Background: This report forms part of the results of an international comparative study funded by the European Commission (1998-2001). Aim: To describe and compare the maintenance of patients' autonomy on surgical wards, from the point of view of nursing staff, in five European countries (Finland, Spain, Greece, Germany and Scotland). Autonomy is defined in terms of information received and decision making by patients. Method: The data were collected using a questionnaire specifically designed for use in this study. Responses (response rate 66%) were obtained from 1280 nurses working on surgical wards. Data analysis was based on descriptive statistics, t-tests, analysis of variance (ANOVA) with posthoc Tukey's HSD test and logistic regression. Results: There were clear between-country differences in nurses' perceptions, especially on a north-south axis (Finland and Scotland vs. Greece and Spain), regarding the extent to which the autonomy of surgical patients is supported by nursing staff. Training and ethics education, in particular, were associated with nurses' perceptions of the maintenance of patient autonomy in Finland and Greece. Conclusion: Further research is needed to establish whether the results obtained are caused by differences in cultures, nursing practices or roles of health-care personnel or patients in different European countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Nursing Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomy
  • Decision Making
  • Information
  • Surgical Nursing Care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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