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The Paradox Of Comfort

MORSE JANICE M.; BOTTORFF, JOAN L; HUTCHINSON, SALLY
Nursing Research: January-February 1995
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Patients who had experienced major illness, surgery, or trauma were asked to “tell their stories.” Using a phenomenological method, eight themes emerged that reflected the experience of the lived body (corporeality) associated with discomfort. These were the dis-eased body, the disobedient body, the deceiving body, the vulnerable body, the violated, body, the resigned body, the enduring body, and the betraying body. To patients, comfort is not an ultimate state of peace and serenity, but rather the relief, even temporary relief, from the most demanding discomfort. Illness and injury place patients' bodies into the foreground, dominating their attention and disrupting their accustomed orientation to the world. Thus, an understanding of patient comfort that is linked with discomfort and empowers or strengthens patients in relation to their bodies provides important insight. The authors argue that attaining comfort is a paradox best understood by reflecting not on the concept of comfort perse, but on its converse. This supports, rather than negates, the construct of comfort as the goal of nursing care.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.