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Consolation in Conjunction With Incurable Cancer

Ulrica Langegård

Karin M. Ahlberg

ONF 2009, 36(2), E99-E106. DOI: 10.1188/09.ONF.E99-E106

Purpose/Objectives: To increase knowledge of what patients with incurable cancer have found consoling during the course of the disease.

Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional analysis.

Setting: Hospice in western Sweden.

Sample: 10 patients (8 women, 2 men) aged 30-90 years.

Methods: Data were collected through semistructured interviews and analyzed with the constant comparative method of analysis.

Findings: Four categories emerged from the interview data: connection, self-control, affirmation, and acceptance. The core variable of the study was developed and defined as "being seen." To be seen and, therefore, consoled results from experiencing a sense of connection, self-control, affirmation, and acceptance. To be consoled is a step toward increased well-being. When patients feel their suffering is seen and understood by another person, they are filled with relief.

Conclusions: Raising the issue of consolation and what consolation means to the patient is essential. Physical contact is not as important as mental presence. The act of listening is the most important factor when it comes to being seen, and what the nurse communicates is what defines the patient/nurse relationship. Nurses should be clear that they have the time and interest to deal with the patient. In addition, a nurse who is concerned with patients and has the courage to stay with them during difficult situations develops an attitude marked by presence, understanding, and commitment. Creativity, knowledge, and, most of all, courage are needed from the nurse as a caregiver to recognize the patient's need for consolation. Creativity and knowledge are needed to determine what point the patient has reached, and courage is needed to be present with the patient during difficult times. Results show that the caregiver, without having an established long-term relationship with the patient, can still bring consolation to the patient.

Implications for Nursing: Creativity, knowledge, and courage are needed to comprehend and accept a patient's need for consolation. By using simple interventions, the nurse can console the patient with little effort. Words become less important when consolation is done through body language.

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