Patients' perceptions of a dedicated AIDS unit: The hospital as home
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An ethnographic, qualitative research design was used in this study to determine hospitalized PWAs' perceptions of a dedicated AIDS unit. The setting for the study was a 508 bed, for-profit, private, community based hospital. The hospital was located in an area accessible to a large percentage of the city's gay population. The hospital had a dedicated 60 bed AIDS unit called the Special Diseases Unit (SDU). The population for this study consisted of adult males hospitalized with a diagnosis of AIDS. The sample consisted of 15 respondents admitted to the SDU chosen through judgemental sampling. Patients who were well enough to converse were approached by the nursing staff to determine their willingness to be a participant in the study. Participants were sought until thematic categories were exhausted. The instruments used in the study included a demographic data questionnaire and a semistructured interview form. Respondents were interviewed in their hospital rooms utilizing a semi-structured interview guide. Data analysis was guided by the grounded theory method. Data were categorized and theory generated based on themes related to the perceptions of the SDU using the constant comparative method of joint coding and analysis. Each incident in the data was coded into as many categories of analysis as possible, as categories or data emerged that fit an existing category. This method was used until all data categories were saturated. Analysis of data was conducted through the construction of various typologies derived from the research questions. The typologies included the following: organizational philosophy, environment, rules and services; and interactional commitment, honesty, comfort, sensitivity, informality and familiality. Subcategories of these key findings were then described to further explain the elements of unit culture which impacted patients' hospital stay. In general, patients described the SDU as homelike. The organizational and interactional features created the familial nature of the SDU. The dedicated AIDS unit enhanced the participants' hospital experience.