Anna Ferguson on Integrating Hope into Conversations with Cancer Patients

October 26, 2014
Anna Ferguson RN, BSN

Anna Ferguson RN, BSN, research nurse, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses how to talk about hope with patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Anna Ferguson RN, BSN, research nurse, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses how to talk about hope with patients who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Ferguson says conversations about hope become easier if nurses and physicians make the patient the focus. Physicians should not, and don’t want to, hold the power to give hope or take it away, Ferguson says. Because of this, some physicians will shy away from the topic of hope so that they don’t give an impression of false hope.

Ferguson says the best way to elevate the whole concept of hope is to make it of and about the patient. The only way to do that is to ask the patient questions that reveal what hope means to the patient, what they are hoping to gain from treatment, and what their hopes are for the future. By doing this, physicians and nurses create a thread of conversations with the patient that runs through the course of their relationship, Ferguson says.

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