Using coping strategies are not denial: helping the loved ones to adjust living with a patient with a palliative diagnose.
Journal article, 2010

Background: When a patient receives the diagnosis of an incurable cancer, their loved ones have to face the fact that life will change. Realizing that the time together is with someone who is going to die, loved ones have to cope with the situation. Objective: The objective of this study was to increase the knowledge concerning what forms of coping strategies loved ones apply when a family member is faced with an incurable cancer. Design: The study had a qualitative approach using in-depth interviews as data from a sample of consecutive loved ones. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using a manifest content analysis. Results: The main findings showed that the strategies used by loved ones could be categorized into four different areas: thinking that the death is far off in the future; hoping for an improvement; living in the present; and utilizing the family and personal network. The loved ones used these strategies in order to learn to live with the fact that their spouse had been diagnosed with an incurable illness. Conclusion: The study shows that the manner in which the coping strategies are used is individual and also depends on how loved ones can cope with the concept of a dying person with whom they are very close. When loved ones have a need for support outside their personal network, it is important to understand that this need is directly related to coping strategies and that it is not a result of denial.


Inger Benkel

University of Gothenburg

Helle Wijk

University of Gothenburg

Ulla Molander

University of Gothenburg

Journal of Palliative Medicine

1096-6218 (ISSN)

Vol. 13 9 1119-1123

Subject Categories


Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology





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