Suffering related to health care: a study of breast cancer patients' experiences

Int J Nurs Pract. 2004 Dec;10(6):248-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-172x.2004.00491.x.


A previous study indicated that patient narratives include experiences of suffering caused or increased by health-care encounters. The aim of this study was to interpret and understand the meaning of patients' experiences of suffering related to health care from an ethical, existential and ontological standpoint. Sixteen women with breast cancer in Sweden and Finland took part in qualitative interviews analysed with a hermeneutic, interpretive approach. The outcome showed that suffering related to health care is a complex phenomenon and constitutes an ethical challenge to health-care personnel. The women's experiences of suffering related to health care tended to be of similar seriousness as their experiences of suffering in relation to having cancer. In an ethical, existential and ontological sense, suffering related to health care is basically a matter of neglect and uncaring where the patient's existential suffering is not seen and she is not viewed as a whole human being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Empathy
  • Existentialism
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Holistic Health
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Narration
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Care / adverse effects*
  • Patient Care / psychology*
  • Patient Care / standards
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Trust