Call bells are used by patients who are admitted in hospitals in order to beckon a nurse or a health care provider for help. In the study by Deitrick, et al. (2006) entitled “Dance of the Call Bells: Using Ethnography to Evaluate Patient Satisfaction with Quality of Care”, the authors incorporated ethnographic methods in order to evaluate the perceptions of the patients with the quality of health care that they are receiving in terms of their experience in the use of the call bell and their expectations once their call bells are used. This study is a qualitative research study done in a 36-bed capacity medical-surgical hospital unit for three months. Qualitative research design studies do not have mathematical equations that assess the statistical significance of a particular study. In this study, there are no statistical data or values reported. The data for this study were collected using interviews that were conducted on the patients, their relatives, as well as the health care service staff which included a physician, the nurses and other members of the nursing and care staff.

Direct observation was done on the area of study, which includes the patient rooms, hallways, nurses’ station and break rooms, in any time during the three nurse shift times for a total of 60 hours. Detailed maps as well as photographs were also utilized during the data collection period. For the analysis of the study, the ethnographers investigated the data that they have gathered from the transcribed survey answers during the interviews, maps, pictures, and observation notes and crosschecked these data other sources. The accuracy and reliability of the instruments used cannot be assessed as the results of the study are based on the perspectives of the patients and their relatives as well as the points of view of the nursing professionals and their respective staff. In this particular study, the authors identified the three factors that may influence the effectiveness of communication between the patients and the nursing staff.

These factors comprise the response of the staff to the call bell, the notification of the needs of the patient, and the actual follow through of the request of the patient. The findings of this particular study helped to enlighten us that patient’s expect to be answered promptly whenever they use the call bell. The concerns of the patient’s include delays or time variations in the nurses’ response to the call bell, the length of time spent before the patient’s requests are tended to, and the lack of follow through with the patient’s request after the call bell was answered. On the part of the nursing staff, this study found that some members of staff do not know who is responsible for answering the patient calls.

The results of this study are very useful to practicing nurses as it should help the nurses and the staff to be mindful of the call bell. The nurses should be informed of the patients that they are responsible to in order for confusion with regards to the response to the call bell will be eliminated. On the other hand, the patients and their relatives should also be informed of the possibility that there could be time delays before the nurses’ would be able to answer to the call bell and that if a lapse in the standard specific time allotted for nurses to answer the calls occurs, they may report this incident to the administrators of the hospital or health care facility.

The patients should also be notified beforehand if there are changes in the timing of administering their medications or if their requests, such as asking to be allowed to smoke inside the hospital, cannot be tended to. Once the promotion of information through proper communication between the patient and the health care staff is established, improvements on the rates of patient satisfaction can be easily attained.


Deitrick, L., Bokovoy, J., Stern, G., & Panik, A. (2006). Dance of the call bells: Using Ethnography to evaluate patient satisfaction with quality of care. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 21 (4), pp. 316-324. Retrieved Apr 27, 2009 from