Suffering related to health care: A study of breast cancer patients’ experiences

Authors

  • Maria Arman RNM PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Senior lecturer, Department of  Welfare and Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Linköping, Norrköping, Sweden
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  • Arne Rehnsfeldt RN PhD,

    1. Senior lecturer, Department of  Welfare and Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Linköping, Norrköping, Sweden
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  • Lisbet Lindholm RN PhD,

    1. Senior lecturer, Department of Caring Science, Åbo Akademi University,  Vasa, Finland
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  • Elisabeth Hamrin RN BM PhD,

    1. Professor Emeritus, Department of Medicine and Care, Clinical Pharmacology and Nursing Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Linköping, Linköping, Sweden
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  • Katie Eriksson RN PhD

    1. Professor, Department of Caring Science, Åbo Akademi University, Vasa, Finland, and Director of Nursing, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
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Maria Arman, Department of Welfare and Care, University of Linköping, 60174 Norrköping, Sweden. Email: marar@ivv.liu.se

Abstract

A previous study indicated that patient narratives include experiences of suffering caused or increased by health-care encounters. The aim of this study was to interpret and understand the meaning of patients’ experiences of suffering related to health care from an ethical, existential and ontological standpoint. Sixteen women with breast cancer in Sweden and Finland took part in qualitative interviews analysed with a hermeneutic, interpretive approach. The outcome showed that suffering related to health care is a complex phenomenon and constitutes an ethical challenge to health-care personnel. The women's experiences of suffering related to health care tended to be of similar seriousness as their experiences of suffering in relation to having cancer. In an ethical, existential and ontological sense, suffering related to health care is basically a matter of neglect and uncaring where the patient's existential suffering is not seen and she is not viewed as a whole human being.

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