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The Meaning of Comfort for Pediatric Patients With Cancer

Mary Ann Cantrell
Christine Matula
ONF 2009, 36(6), E303-E309 DOI: 10.1188/09.ONF.E303-E309

Purpose/Objectives: To describe the meaning of being cared for and comforted by pediatric oncology nurses among a sample of childhood cancer survivors.

Research Approach: A hermeneutic analysis was conducted to describe the meaning of the phenomenon.

Setting: An oncology treatment center in the northeastern United States.

Participants: 11 childhood cancer survivors.

Methodologic Approach: Four childhood cancer survivors participated in a focus group, and seven were interviewed one-on-one via telephone interviews. The focus groups and the one-on-one interviews were tape-recorded, and the audio recordings were then transcribed into an electronic text file.

Main Research Variables: Comfort and caring behavior.

Findings: All participants agreed that simple acts of caring by nurses were meaningful to them and provided comfort. The five themes generated from the data analysis were (a) You Just Can't Pretend to Care, (b) Try to Take the Hospital Experiences Out of the Hospital, (c) I'm Not Just Another Kid With Cancer—There Is a Lot More About Me That You Should Get to Know, (d) Caring for Me Also Includes Caring for My Family, and (e) Nurses Make Treatment Experiences More Bearable Through Their Small Acts of Caring.

Conclusions: Pediatric patients with cancer find physical and emotional comfort through nurses' acts of caring.

Interpretation: The findings highlight the significance of caring acts by pediatric oncology nurses that provide comfort for children and adolescents with cancer.

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