Hopelessness Concept Paper

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Hopelessness: A Concept Analysis by Linda Gouthro

A Paper Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for NU 607 Critical Analysis of the Scientific Underpinnings of Advanced Nursing Practice University of South Alabama College of Nursing Fall 2010



Hopelessness: A Concept Analysis Introduction Paragraph: Hopelessness is a familiar term generally used to denote a negative emotional state. Despite frequent use of the term in the English language, conveying what might be considered a simplistic idea, hopelessness as a concept is multi-dimensional and complex. A review of the professional literature reflects an abundance of research accumulated by a variety of disciplines, including nursing, medicine, psychology, religion, sociology and the arts. The richness of the literature will be used to discuss hopelessness. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the significance of hopelessness using the concept analysis framework discussed by Chinn and Kramer (2008). Significance of Hopelessness to Nursing and Practice: Hopelessness was selected as a concept based on observed response variances viewed between different individuals faced with travesty and admitted to an inpatient mental health unit. The question as to why some individuals manage to cope with tragedy in a productive manner, while others opt to give up, emerged. Studies examining epidemiological prevalence of suicide suggest 25% of the general population experience suicidal ideation with depression (Goldney, Wilson, Del Grande, Fisher & McFarlane, 2000), while 50% of depressed inpatients report thoughts of suicide (Mann, Waternaux, Haas & Malone, 1999). The inclusion of hopelessness by the North American Nursing Diagnostic Association (1996) in their nursing diagnostic manual reflects the nursing profession's sensitivity to the impact of this concept in nursing practice. Dyer, Sparks, and Taylor (1995) use defining characteristics to differentiate between hopelessness associated with chronic illness, physical disability and psychiatric disorders. However, several authors emphasize the relationship of hopelessness to depression, physical



illness or disability resulting in ambiguous crucial features associated with hopelessness (Dunn, 2005; Grewal & Porter, 2007; Hamzaoglu, Ozkan, Ulusoy& Gokdogan, 2010). Clarity about concepts specific to hopelessness can lead to greater understanding and can impact nursing practice. Uses and Definitions of the Concept: Using the Online Etymology Dictionary, the earliest listed origin of hopelessness dates to the 1560's as a combination of the words hope and less. The word hope originates from the Old English word hopian and refers to "wish, expect, look forward (to something)". The origin of hopian is unknown, however may be related to the West Germanic languages of Frisian, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, or to Middle High German; all were languages in use between 1100 and 1500. Less comes for the Old English, leas meaning "free (from), devoid (of), false, feigned," and likely from the earlier Proto-Germanic language, theoretically identified as the beginning of Germanic words, including English. Interestingly, the verb spout, from the Middle Dutch language of the early 14th century, was first recorded as a noun during the late 14th century and was used as a colloquial term to describe the pawnbroker's shop lift in the early 19th century. Up the spout was used to refer to being "lost, hopeless, gone beyond recall". The meaning of desperate and deplore were defined using hopeless as a descriptive term (Harper, 2010). The Oxford English Dictionary Online (OED, 1989) defines hopelessness as a "hopeless condition; want of hope, despair, state of being despaired of, desperateness". The contemporary definition of hopelessness varies little from the earliest...
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