Patients' perception of time in palliative care: a metasynthesis of qualitative studies
Time perception in palliative care is modified by the prospect of death and by uncertainty about the future. Patients’ perceptions of time have been explored within individual qualitative studies reporting fragmented evidence. This study aimed to synthesize available qualitative literature on patients’ perception of time in palliative care using the Johanna Briggs Institute integrative approach. An extensive search was conducted within the major biomedical databases using the key words “time perception,” “palliative care,” and “patients.” Seven studies were included. Four main themes emerged from the metasynthesis. “The suspended time of waiting” was a central theme because of its importance in patients’ accounts and also because it was susceptible to change by health professionals. The other 3 themes were “the time of the diseased body,” “perspectives change with time,” and “from the end to the aim of time.” This study shows the interconnected nature of physical, social, and emotional aspects of time perception and the profound social impact of providing and receiving care. Knowledge of patients’ time perceptions in palliative care can help health professionals respect them and improve their care.