Nursing care dependence in the experiences of advanced cancer inpatients
Increasing burden of cancer in Europe and socio-demographic trends imply that more cancer patients will face high levels of dependency. Care dependency is often perceived as a distressing experience by cancer patients who are concerned about becoming a burden to others. The experience of care dependence has been scarcely investigated in advanced cancer patients, especially in the hospital setting. This study aimed at describing advanced cancer patients' experiences of care dependence in hospital and of the factors perceived by them as contributing to decrease or increase this dependence.
The study used a descriptive phenomenological approach based on Husserl's (1913) life world perspective. Data collection and analysis followed Giorgi's (1997) five basic methodological steps. Data were gathered by semi-structured interviews with thirteen advanced cancer adult inpatients of a teaching hospital. The interviews were audio-recorded and the recordings transcribed word for word.
Three themes emerged: 'dependency discovers new meanings of life', 'active coping with dependency' and 'the care cures the dependent person'. The essential meaning of care dependency was the possibility to become aware of being a person as both an object and subject of care.
Dependence appears as an experience with strong relational connotations, which enable patients to see differently their life, themselves, the world and others. Dependency is revealed as a natural experience, only partly in accordance with previous studies. Deeper insight into the meaning patients attach to care dependency can enable nurses to better meet the patient's needs, e.g. by improving caring relationships with patients.
Advanced cancer; Care dependency; Hospitals; Phenomenology; Qualitative research; Semi-structured interviews.