Focusing on psychiatric patients’ strengths: A new vision on mental health care in Iran

Ali Zargham‑Boroujeni, Jahangir Maghsoudi, Hamid Reza Oreyzi



Background: Identifying and using the strengths of patients, in practice, is a new territory. Today, the need to educate nurses and psychiatric patients about positive psychology in practice and the importance of understanding and focusing on strengths is clear. However, little is known about the strengths the psychiatric patients use and experience. Thus, this study has been designed and conducted in order to understand how people with psychiatric disorders demonstrate their strengths.

Materials and Methods: In the present study, 13 semi‑structured, qualitative interviews with patients and 2 focus groups with nurses were carried out. In addition, a qualitative content analysis was used to identify significant strengths.

Results: Based on the results, the four main strengths consisted of: Finding a meaning in daily living, work as enduring strength, entertaining activities, and positive relationship. Patients also reported that health care providers rarely focused on patients’ strengths, and experts confirmed these findings. Our findings indicate that patients’ own strengths are a pivotal factor in getting through their illness from their perspective.

Conclusions: Despite the enduring legacy of pessimism regarding psychiatric patients, these people have a repertoire of strengths. Nurses should, therefore, have a greater focus on eliciting and nourishing psychiatric patients’ strengths in their care. It is suggested that the theoretical and practical aspects of patients’ strengths be incorporated in nursing school curricula.

Key words: Iran, patient strengths, psychiatric patients, qualitative analysis

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