A nursing experience of holistic care on total suffering of a patient with terminal illness

Wan Ping Yang, Wei Shu Lai, Co Shi Chantal Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this article was to describe a nursing experience using holistic care to relieve total suffering resulting from complex interactions amongst physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects in a patient with terminal illness. Each aspect of problems was identified by means of direct participant care, observation, empathetic communication and holistic assessment. Such included: (1) physical aspect: distress caused by pain, nausea, vomiting and poor intake, infection and hypercalcaemia; (2) psychosocial aspect: caregiver's overwhelming burdens and financial concerns; (3) spiritual aspect: yearn for being with a higher-being and receiving unconditional love, pursuit of the meaning of suffering, proceed to the next stage to develop a unique care plan and nursing intervention program. Nursing goals were set up based on the patient's "life expectancy" represented by the hope for a painless and peaceful death. The author helped to provide unique, holistic and continued care for the purpose of humanity. The main nursing interventions included active control of symptoms, encouraging the expression of emotional distress, caring and emotional resonance with caregiver's overwhelming burdens, reconciling with a higher being through art therapy, pursuit of the meaning of suffering and sharing the darkness. This nursing experience of holistic care may be shared with other healthcare professionals and has been recorded as a positive response to the following quote from Dame Cicely Saunders: "The way care is given can reach the most hidden places and give space for unexpected development".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nursing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)


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