Hope And The Significance Of Healthcare

Hope is a difficult concept. On the one hand, patients may choose painful, ineffective treatments toward the end of their lives as a result of false hope. Conversely, overly pessimistic perspectives may result in melancholy and passivity. Presenting facts with just the appropriate degree of hope when patients’ health is at risk can help them avoid needless suffering and/or dying from curable illnesses.

I was reading a depressing account of a patient who felt helpless because of her doctor. She was an elderly widow whose medical concerns were real but not life-threatening. His attitude led her to believe that she was sick and useless – with little to look forward to but endless testing, disease progression and eventual death. His expert judgment carried extra weight with her, influencing her whole perspective. She did not start to doubt the doctor’s diagnosis, available treatments, or even prognosis until a friend pointed her that doctors are human.

Even the most informed among us tend to the worst when presented with alarming new medical diagnoses. Knowing this, doctors should be careful to provide comfort and hope when appropriate. Hope gives us the willpower to change our course, fight the good fight, and cling to our belief in a better tomorrow. It is so freely given, why be stingy with it?

As a rehabilitation physician, I frequently deal with healthy people’s prejudice against specific injuries. “That poor man’s life must be ruined,” or “I would not want to go on living if I could not walk,” are whispers I hear them say.  Nevertheless, individuals engaged in combat do not feel the same way. Losing a skill frequently helps one concentrate on what matters and all the things that are still attainable and enjoyable. We all have the gift of life, and while we still have it, we can all contribute in a significant way.

Seeing patients lose hope saddens me, and it is even more upsetting when medical professionals contribute to the loss. Speaking has psychological consequences, therefore we should be aware of our responsibility to impart knowledge in a courteous and respectful manner, putting an emphasis on the achievable, allaying irrational concerns, and highlighting the fact that inner peace is possible under any situation.

In the field of healthcare, we should never give up hope—not for longer or flawless health—but rather for our capacity to overcome challenges, turn bad things around, and positively influence others. Regardless of the illness or condition, we have the freedom to choose to live our best lives. Never allow a doctor to rob you of your hope; instead, embrace the goal of rehabilitation: to prolong life.

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