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Keywords:

  • hope;
  • hoping;
  • longing;
  • spinal cord injury;
  • suffering;
  • the vicious circle

Aims and objectives.  The aim of this study was to explore patients’ experiences of hope during the first year suffering from spinal cord injury.

Background.  There is a lack of substantial precision with regard to the concept of hope. Very few qualitative studies focusing on experiences of hope in spinal cord-injured patients have been identified in the literature. In this study, ‘hope’ was defined as future oriented towards improvement.

Design and methods.  Data were collected by means of personal interviews (n = 10) at the participants’ homes in Norway. A phenomenological-hermeneutic approach, inspired by Ricoeur, was used to extract the meaning of the patients’ experiences. The analysis was performed in several steps, as a hermeneutic process.

Results.  In this study, the findings revealed two main themes: ‘The Vicious Circle’ and ‘Longing’. The vicious circle constituted aspects of suffering, and the common hope experienced by the subjects was therefore to leave the vicious circle. Experiences of suffering were experienced as feelings of loneliness, impatience, disappointment, bitterness and dependency. The ‘Longing’ was based on the subject's former life and was the source of awaked new hopes, which again was experienced comforting.

Conclusions.  Experiences of suffering created hope and longing. The meaning of hope was to find a possible way out of the circle and the hoping was experienced as a comfort.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Implications to nursing practice are listening to the suffering and longing individual and comforting the suffering by pointing towards possible future roads of hope.