Hope for health and health care
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- Stempsey, W.E. Med Health Care and Philos (2015) 18: 41. doi:10.1007/s11019-014-9572-y
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Virtually all activities of health care are motivated at some level by hope. Patients hope for a cure; for relief from pain; for a return home. Physicians hope to prevent illness in their patients; to make the correct diagnosis when illness presents itself; that their prescribed treatments will be effective. Researchers hope to learn more about the causes of illness; to discover new and more effective treatments; to understand how treatments work. Ultimately, all who work in health care hope to offer their patients hope. In this paper, I offer a brief analysis of hope, considering the definitions of Hobbes, Locke, Hume and Thomas Aquinas. I then differentiate shallow and deep hope and show how hope in health care can remain shallow. Next, I explore what a philosophy of deep hope in health care might look like, drawing important points from Ernst Bloch and Gabriel Marcel. Finally, I suggest some implications of this philosophy of hope for patients, physicians, and researchers.