The Meaning of Hope and Social Support in Patients Receiving Chemotherapy

Jennifer L. Mattioli

Rhonda Repinski

Sharon L. Chappy

social support, hope
ONF 2008, 35(5), 822-829. DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.822-829

Purpose/Objectives: To explore and describe the meaning of hope and social support in patients receiving chemotherapy.

Research Approach: Descriptive, qualitative.

Setting: One ambulatory care oncology center in the midwestern United States.

Participants: 6 men and 8 women with a mean age of 63.6 years.

Methodologic Approach: Semistructured interviews were conducted while patients underwent chemotherapy. Interviewers asked open-ended questions to elicit each participant's personal meaning of hope and social support. Meticulous notes were taken during each interview. The data were analyzed with an editing style that used codes to sort and organize meaningful statements. The statements were categorized and themes were developed to give meaning to the data.

Main Research Variables: Hope and social support.

Findings: Four themes emerged during data analysis. Focusing on the Bigger Picture represented adaptation to the diagnosis and learning to live beyond it. Taking Cover in the Storm signified sheltering oneself from the negative aspects of cancer. Keeping It Normal signified participants' desire to continue activities as they had prior to their illness. Reaching Out/Not in This Alone illustrated the need to seek faith, treatment potential, and others, including healthcare providers, for hope and support.

Conclusions: Hope aids in overall health and well-being. Support from family, friends, and healthcare providers was valuable to participants as they dealt with their disease and treatment.

Interpretation: Hope and social support are multidimensional with individualized meanings. Healthcare providers can teach proactive strategies to shelter patients from the negative aspects of cancer and chemotherapy. Healthcare providers are valuable sources of support and hope for the patients in their care.

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