Physicians’ Perceptions of Hope and How Hope Informs Interactions With Patients: A Qualitative, Exploratory Study.

Document Type


Publication Date



Nursing, Spiritual Services

Journal Title

American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine

MeSH Headings

Hope Evaluation; Physician Attitudes; Access to Information; Physician-Patient Relations; Human; Qualitative Studies; Tertiary Health Care; Validity; Data Analysis Software


Objectives: Today some studies of physicians’ perceptions of hope are available, but not studies of how hope informs patient care. The objectives of this qualitative study were to describe the ways physicians conceptualize hope and how these may inform interactions with their patients. Methods: Ten physicians working in a large tertiary care teaching hospital were interviewed. They represented palliative care, oncology, and 7 other specialties. Minimal amount of background information was collected. In-depth interviews were conducted during spring of 2016. Open coding and the constant comparison method were used to identify emerging themes from the transcribed data. Validation method included member checking. Results: Hope was defined as an abstract, evolving concept characterized by future-oriented wishes; offering possibilities for reframing and shaping new meaning; an attitude of positivity or optimism; an attribute of the human condition with emotional and relational roots; and as a response to the existential inevitability of suffering and death. Three themes describing hope emerged: “assessing hope,” “fostering and sustaining hope,” and “attributes and outcomes of hope.” Conclusions: The findings show how physicians conceptualize hope and how these conceptions differ in the empirical light of the study. Physicians’ perceptions of “hope” may evolve when entering into a therapeutic relationship exploring the needs and desires of patients. Physicians’ perspectives about “hope” may at times not be solely their own but are those of their patients and thus resulting in an amalgamation, or a rebuilding/rekindling of hope amidst hopelessness, that suits a particular relationship.

First Page


Last Page