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Searching for new hope : a grounded theory of the experience of hope for older women who are bereaved palliative caregivers



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Purpose/Objectives: To explore the experience and processes of hope for older women who are bereaved palliative caregivers and to develop a substantive theory of their hope experience. Design/Research Approach: Qualitative, constructivist grounded theory Setting: Participants’ homes in a small Canadian city Sample/Participants: Thirty interviews with thirteen women, ages 60-79, within the first year of bereavement after providing care to a spouse with terminal cancer, also twelve hope diaries Methods/Methodologic Approach: Open-ended, in-depth audio-taped interviews, hope diaries, transcribed verbatim and analyzed using constant comparative analysis Main Research Variables: Participant’s descriptions of their experience of hope Findings: Participants defined hope as a gradual process of regaining inner strength and building self-confidence, to make sense of their totally changed situations. They were learning to stay positive, and move ahead with their lives. Hope was very important to the participants. The participants’ main concern was losing hope which they dealt with by searching for new hope through finding balance, finding new perspectives, and finding new meaning and purpose. The theoretical model resembles a spiral and takes place within a social context. Conclusions: Older women who are bereaved after caregiving for a palliative cancer patient are at risk for losing hope and require support as they search for new hope and move through the complex processes of bereavement. Implications for Nursing/Interpretation: Health care professionals can provide appropriate and effective care that facilitates positive and healthy bereavement outcomes by monitoring bereaved palliative caregivers at risk for losing hope and supporting them as they search for new hope to find their own way through bereavement.



cancer, Palliative care, hospice, carer, family



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Nursing


College of Nursing


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