Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Hope has been recognized as a valuable inner resource for persons with chronic or life threatening illnesses. Cancer patients have described their feelings of frustration and discouragement related to communication by nurses that has hindered or caused them to lose hope. Other cancer patients have described how nurses have communicated in ways that have fostered hope. It is fostering realistic hope that is the difficult issue.

Research is lacking as to how cancer patients define hope, and there are no studies that address the concept of hope as it relates to the rural male living with colon cancer. Understanding what hope means to the rural male who has cancer may help nurses to better communicate realistic hope to this population, without hindering hope.

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe the perceptions and experiences of rural male cancer patients, specifically in relation to hope. Further, it explored their perceptions and experiences of communication methods that nurses have used to promote or dissuade hope. This study provides a basis for nurses to gain insight into the rural male patients' perceptions of hope. Thus, it will enable them to adapt their communication and health care methods to better meet the needs of these patients.

Using a qualitative phenomenological research design, four male colon cancer patients living in a rural community, and currently being treated for their cancer were interviewed using semi-structured face-to-face audio taped interviews. The interviews were conducted in an outpatient cancer center located in Northwest Minnesota. The age range of participants was 40 to 85 years. Findings provide a more thorough understanding of what hope means to the rural male who has colon cancer and are expected to provide better insight for the nurses who care for these patients and guide them in the daily challenge of communicating hope to these patients. Participants described what hope means to them, what gives them hope, and how nurses can communicate realistic hope.