NCDE Summer Institute-Exploring the Healing Power of Hope and Miracles: for ourselves and others

Thursday, July 24, 2014

National Center for Death Education 2014 Summer Institute

Presenter: Lucille R Marchand, BSN, MD


Workshop Description: Hospice and palliative medicine clinicians struggle with maintaining hope in the face of life threatening illness.  Poor prognosis often highlights the dilemma of maintaining hope in the face of challenging illness with limited or no options for curative care.  When hope is viewed as an outcome, options may indeed be limited and hopeless.

How is hope then maintained in the patient and clinician?   Research shows that the biology of belief and maintenance of hope have positive results in the patient by improving physical, emotional and spiritual symptom management.  Hope also has positive effects in the clinician.  How can we maintain real hope in our communications with patients and families, while avoiding false hope and false hopelessness?  This workshop with explore the dimensions of hope and how it affects our care and our own, patient and families’ health and well being.

The art and science of hope will be explored through participant discussion in large and small group formats, a presentation on hope, a 55 Word Story writing exercise, panel discussion of hope and hopelessness, and presentation of balanced and easy to learn communication techniques that strengthen hope and the empowerment of patients, families and clinicians in the face of life threatening and challenging palliative medicine situations.


  1. Distinguish between hope and hopelessness, and false hope and false hopelessness.
  2. Generate a list of attributes regarding domains of hope and hopelessness.
  3. Differentiate hope as a process with key communication facilitators versus hope as outcome.
  4. Review the research on hope, and how maintaining hope has important, positive clinical results.
  5. Integrate the concepts of hope and hopelessness into clinical care and professional reflection using the 55 Word Story method – a timed writing method that is short and can be applied to later to the clinician’s clinical setting.
  6. Demonstrate the communications skills presented in the workshop to consolidate learning.

These objectives will be met through presentation of research and content on hope, large and small group discussion, a short writing exercise, and dialogue in participant dyads of key communication techniques.