Coming to Terms Female Veterans' Experience of Serious Illness

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Female veteran populations are growing internationally and are more likely than men to develop certain serious illnesses, including some cancers. In the United States, fewer than 50% of eligible female veterans sought care at Veteran Affairs facilities. In addition, female veterans are not well represented within palliative care research, and little research exists that explores the female veteran experience of living with a serious illness. The purpose of this study was to explore female veterans' experiences of living with a serious illness. This study reports the qualitative findings from a multimethod study using qualitative inquiry to explore female veterans' experiences of living with a serious illness. Participants completed individual, semistructured interviews. Braun and Clarke's method of reflexive thematic analysis guided the analysis. Ten participants shared their experiences, and 3 themes emerged: “You call this quality of life?”, coming to terms, and “it” dictates everything. This study highlights the impaired quality of life of female veterans. Palliative care can serve to improve quality of life and return a sense of control back to female veterans. Nurses at all levels can have a positive impact in improving palliative care delivery for the female veteran population in both civilian and government health care sectors.

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Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing

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