Kathleen BroadhurstAnn Harrington
School of Nursing and Midwifery, Flinders University, Australia
Hope has been identified internationally as being crucial to life. Given its subjectivity, hope can be a difficult concept to comprehend although a general definition described a sense of anticipation and longing for a specific event to occur.
Hope was found to be important for patients dealing with adversity. The question arises as to how patients keep hope alive when confronted by a diagnosis of a terminal illness?
A literature review was instigated to investigate the meaning of hope to patients receiving palliative care and to examine the themes that foster hope for dying patients:
- Disease status: Good symptom control, hope for a cure, accepting prognosis and hope for a peaceful death all featured.
- Positive personal relationships: Love of family and friends and good relationships with professional carers increased hope.
- Positive character traits in the individual such as determination and optimism assisted with hope-generation.
- Quality of life: living life to the full, everyday living and well-being together with uplifting memories increased hope.
- Setting and achieving goals, including retaining independence and symptom control, generated hope and were seen as the converse of hopelessness.
- Spirituality/Religion: faith in God and prayer were a vital resource for maintaining hope.
- Hope after death: Leaving a legacy and focusing on a positive future for family and friends enabled hope to be maintained despite life-limiting illness.
Broadhurst K & Harrington A (2015) A mixed method thematic review: The importance of hope to the dying patient. Journal of Advanced Nursing DOI: 10.1111/jan.12765