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Authors

  1. Filhour, Louis D. PhD, RN

Abstract

Using a phenomenological design, the researcher repeated a previous study of males, this time exploring the question of what is the experience of suffering voiced by female patients 6-12 months after hospitalization for blunt trauma. Eleven female volunteers were interviewed and asked questions about how they suffered, what made their suffering more or less bearable, and how they were transformed through their suffering. Like the males, female participants experienced changes in patterns resulting in perceptions of suffering. Participants reported mostly experiencing physical, emotional, and social forms of suffering, whereas fewer participants experienced economic and spiritual suffering. Experiences of suffering resulted from the threat to their sense of wholeness because of their injuries. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors made participants' suffering more or less bearable as they regained or revised their shattered wholeness. Positive attitude and motivation were significant intrinsic factors, whereas quality supportive care was the most significant extrinsic factor. Feeling cared about emotionally was as important as feeling cared for physically in helping participants better bear their suffering. Poor quality care was a significant negative extrinsic factor resulting in suffering being made more unbearable. Through their experiences of suffering and finding meaning in that suffering, participants were transformed, amending their previous state and resulting in a new state of wholeness. Knowledge gained through this phenomenological study may help nurses understand suffering and guide their care and caring to alleviate it or make it more bearable.