Advantages of the Nurse-Patient Contract

Janet Harris


Various authors have reported advantages of establishing a nursing contract with the patient and/or the family (Blair, 1971; Forrest, 1975; Sloan and Schommer, 1975). Practical, professional and philosophical considerations account for the increasing attention on contracts in recent studies.
A contract is defined as "an agreement between two parties for the doing or not doing of some definite thing" (Parsons, 1972). Since both nurse and patient are involved in establishing the terms of the contract, the goals and expectations of both parties become apparent. Patients often have ideas that differ markedly from those held by professionals (Friedson, 1960). The nursing contract can help clarify these differences and clear up incorrect assumptions on both sides (Maluccio and Marlow, 1974; Parsons, 1972; Pincus and Minahan, 1973: 178). During interactions between nurse and patient, each party can refer back to the original terms of the contract for clarification and direction.

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