Jasmine Cheung

PhD candidate

An exploration of the nurses’ experience of caring for “outlier patients” in the acute care setting: a hermeneutic phenomenological study

Supervisors: Maureen Boughton and Sandra West

The imbalance between bed demand and bed capacity has inevitably generated significant numbers of “outlier patients” in the healthcare setting. While the term “outlier patients” has been widely used in hospital bed management and increasingly in current literature, the current operational definition of “outlier patients” demonstrates a lack of depth and richness in addressing the experience and meaning in terms of the nurses’ experience of caring for “outlier patients”.

This study aims to explore the experience of caring for “outlier patients” in an acute care setting from the nurses’ perspective.
This research will adopt a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, using in-depth interviews to explore the nurses’ experience of caring for “outlier patients” in an acute care setting. Registered nurses, who have experience in caring for outliers patients and who have been working in a public hospital in New South Wales within the last two years are currently being recruited through flyers and advertisements.


The significance of this phenomenon has been highlighted in the final report of the special commission of inquiry into acute care services in New South Wales public hospital released by Garling (2008). This report has criticised current bed management policy and identified “outlier patients” as “a problem” in the healthcare system. Associated nursing outcomes in caring for “outlier patients”, such as poor nursing morale and difficulty in focusing on specialty nursing education have also been reported by Garling (2008).