Please login (Members) to view content or
(Nonmembers) this article.
No votes yet

The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing

Betty R. Ferrell
Nessa Coyle
ONF 2008, 35(2), 241-247 DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.241-247

Purpose/Objectives: To describe the nature of suffering and the goals of nursing.

Data Sources: Data sources informing this work included descriptions of suffering as derived from the literature; narrative data from patients, family caregivers, and nurses; and personal and professional experiences of the authors.

Data Synthesis: Previous descriptions of suffering from seminal sources are insufficient to elucidate suffering from a nursing perspective. This article is parallel to Cassell's description in 1982 of the nature of suffering and the goals of medicine. Nurses play a fundamental role in caring for those who suffer. Suffering is associated with loss, intense emotions, spiritual distress, and inability to express those experiences.

Conclusions: The 10 basic tenets of suffering describe its nature and the goals of nursing; they include listening, intimate care of the body, and presence.

Implications for Nursing: Oncology nurses witness suffering in their daily work. This article is intended to acknowledge suffering experienced in oncology nursing and to stimulate future research.

Members Only

Access to this article is restricted. Please login to view the full article.

Not a current ONS Member or journal subscriber?
Join/Renew Membership or