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Meaning of Dependency on Care as Narrated by 10 Patients

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This article is part of an ongoing study that aims to illuminate the meaning of dependency on care. The aim of this particular study is to disclose the meaning of dependency on care as narrated by patients. We conducted interviews with patients (six men and four women) who had been in medical or surgical wards for at least 14 days. Seven of the patients were also interviewed one week after discharge. The participants ranged in age from 41 to 84 years old. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A phenomenological-hermeneutic approach was used to interpret the resulting text. The results show that to be dependent on care is to face the inevitability of not being able to manage by oneself—it is being attached to the nurses and bound to the care they offer. Being dependent on care involves a struggle to get care without treading on the nurses' toes. The nurses are one's lifelines and getting care is essential, no matter what. It is better to receive any form of care, good or bad, than to receive nothing. Being dependent on care is to be exposed and subjected to a nurse's ability and benevolence. One comprehensive understanding of the meaning of dependency on care is simply that "one does not saw off the branch one is sitting on." Furthermore, dependency on care involves a struggle to move forward in a life that hurts. Patients lose much of their freedom of choice in daily life and grieve their loss of ability and value. Patients may be able, however, to see things they would have never noticed earlier in life. Dependency on care is understood as one kind of "limit situation." Patients who are dependent on care may reevaluate their potential in life and gain another perspective on life.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-01-01

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