Shades of hope: Marcel's notion of hope in end-of-life care

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This article examines the compatibility and relevance of Gabriel Marcel's phenomenology of hope in interdisciplinary research on the role of hope in end-of-life (EOL) care. Our analysis is divided into three thematic topics which examine the various shades of hope observed in Marcel's phenomenology of hope and in the collection of 20 EOL studies on hope as experienced by adult palliative care (PC) patients, health care professionals (HCP) and parents of terminally ill children. The three topics defining the shades of hope are: the meaning of hope in its dynamic aspects, the dialectics of hope and despair, and the transcendent facets of hope. We analyse how Marcel's understanding of hope is reflected in EOL studies, and how this perception can enrich the philosophy of PC and significantly deepen and broaden HCPs' understanding of hope. Our findings prove that despite terminological differences between Marcelian phenomenology and the concepts of hope in the 20 EOL studies, hope emerges as a resourceful movement towards being. Implementing Marcelian hope within communication in EOL care could help in HCPs' interpersonal approach to patients as his concept harbors a holistic perception of the existential situation of a person. Equally, introducing Marcel's phenomenology of hope into the clinical encounter could play a beneficial role in improving the ability of patients to adapt to the difficult conditions of their disease and PC treatment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine, Healthcare and Philosophy
Pages (from-to)529–542
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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