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Palliat Support Care. 2011 Sep;9(3):281-94. doi: 10.1017/S147895151100023X.

Harmonizing hope: a grounded theory study of the experience of hope of registered nurses who provide palliative care in community settings.

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College of Nursing, Southern Saskatchewan Campus, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan, Canada.



The purpose of this study was to explore the hope experience of registered nurses (RNs) who provide palliative care services in community settings. The specific aims of the study were to (1) describe their hope experience, (2) develop a reflexive understanding of the processes of their hope, and (3) construct a substantive theory of hope of palliative care RNs.


Using constructivist grounded theory methodology, purposeful theoretical sampling was used to enroll 14 practicing community palliative care RNs in the study. Twenty-seven open-ended telephone interviews were conducted and nine daily journal entries on hope were copied. Interviews and journals were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using Charmaz's grounded theory approach.


Participants described their hope as a positive state of being involving a perseverant and realistic understanding of future possibilities. Their hope sustained and motivated them, and helped them to strive to provide high-quality care. The main concern for participants was keeping their hope when faced with work life challenges and contrasting viewpoints (i.e., when their hopes differed from the hopes of others around them). They dealt with this through harmonizing their hope by the processes of "looking both ways," "connecting with others," "seeing the bigger picture," and "trying to make a difference." Their experience of hope was defined within the social context of their work and lives.


The results of this study suggest that hope is very important to palliative care RNs, in that it helps them to persevere and sustains them when faced with work life challenges in their practice. This study also highlights the need for continued research in this area as there appears to be a lack of evidence on the meaning of hope for healthcare professionals, and, in particular, understanding hope in the context of palliative and end-of-life care delivery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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