Hopework: health care providers caring for cancer patients facing end of life.




Wong, Helen Lee

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A grounded theory study (Charmaz, 2006) explored health care providers' (HCPs) hope processes (hopework) caring for cancer patients facing end of life. A critical social work perspective was used to investigate experiences of nurses, doctors and social workers and counsellors in their work with psychosocial and emotional end of life issues. Health care providers' engaged in a core process of hopework as they faced the ambiguous and uncertain terrain of end of life care. They searched for realistic hope by shifting their professional and personal hopes. This core process was achieved by meaning-based actions that enabled HCPs to tolerate tragic circumstances and to build emotional scaffolding to sustain themselves. The findings indicate that HCPs engage in a parallel process of hopework with their patients to achieve `realistic hopes'. Although concepts of hopework are not easily defined, the processes of hope need to be addressed in the professional training of HCPs to optimize patient care and to prevent damage to patients' vulnerable hopes.



cancer, patient care, health care providers