Presence and the paradox of time for palliative care clinicians: a phenomenological study
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Background: A presence of quality is recognized as a central competence for palliative care clinicians in their mission to accompany patients and families in their end-of-life journey. However, PC clinicians’ capacity for presence may be affected by the increasing emotional, professional and organizational demands of their working environment. Those demands may, in turn, affect quality of care and clinicians’ health. To our knowledge, no previous study has aimed at a better understanding of how PC clinicians view and experience presence in their day-to-day work, although this holds the potential of generating insights to help clinicians develop and cultivate a high-quality presence towards dying patients.
Methods: We conducted in-depth qualitative semi-structured interviews with 10 PC clinicians working on a specialized PC ward, later analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
Results: Results account for three essential themes describing the experience of presence; connection to the self, to the other and to the meaning of care. Results also suggest that presence was lived and experienced within a very particular relation to time, which appeared to our participants as a significant challenge in achieving high-quality presence.
Conclusion: The stressful working environment in which PC clinicians daily evolve appeared as a threat to presence for our participants. Paradoxically, cultivating presence with mindfulness may be a promising tool to better cope with the competing demands of work and to foster clinicians’ resilience to stress.
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