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Posted: September 4th, 2023

Explain how the Theory of Chronic Sorrow

Explain how the Theory of Chronic Sorrow can be used as a framework for planning care and identifying resources. Include 3 APA format in-text citations and references

The Theory of Chronic Sorrow, developed by Eakes, Burke, and Hainsworth in 1998, provides a framework for understanding and addressing the ongoing emotional experience of individuals living with chronic conditions or disabilities. This theory acknowledges that individuals with chronic conditions often experience a profound and persistent sense of loss, grief, and sorrow due to the ongoing nature of their condition. In the context of planning care and identifying resources, the Theory of Chronic Sorrow offers valuable insights into the emotional needs of these individuals and guides healthcare professionals in providing appropriate support.

One way the Theory of Chronic Sorrow can be used as a framework for planning care is by recognizing the cyclical nature of chronic sorrow and adapting interventions accordingly. According to Eakes et al. (1998), chronic sorrow is characterized by recurring episodes of grief triggered by various factors such as disease progression, functional decline, or life events. Healthcare professionals can anticipate these episodes and develop care plans that include emotional support during vulnerable periods. For example, a nurse caring for a patient with multiple sclerosis can proactively provide counseling or refer the patient to a support group during times of disease exacerbation or when facing significant life changes.

Another aspect of planning care based on the Theory of Chronic Sorrow is the identification of appropriate resources to address the emotional needs of individuals with chronic conditions. As stated by Holtslander et al. (2011), individuals experiencing chronic sorrow often benefit from accessing support groups, counseling services, or peer networks where they can share their experiences and receive validation and understanding. Healthcare professionals can collaborate with social workers, psychologists, or community organizations to provide information and facilitate access to these resources. For instance, a social worker can connect a caregiver of a child with a chronic illness to a local parent support group to address their feelings of sorrow and help them build a support network.

Furthermore, the Theory of Chronic Sorrow underscores the importance of family-centered care and involving family members in the planning and provision of care. As mentioned by Zauszniewski et al. (2011), chronic sorrow affects not only individuals with chronic conditions but also their family members who share the experience of ongoing loss and grief. Recognizing the impact of chronic sorrow on families, healthcare professionals can incorporate family-focused interventions into care plans. This may involve family therapy sessions, educational programs for families on coping strategies, or respite care services to alleviate the burden on family caregivers.

In conclusion, the Theory of Chronic Sorrow offers a valuable framework for planning care and identifying resources for individuals with chronic conditions. By understanding the cyclical nature of chronic sorrow, healthcare professionals can adapt interventions to provide timely emotional support. Additionally, the identification and facilitation of appropriate resources, such as support groups and counseling services, can address the emotional needs of individuals. Moreover, involving family members in the care planning process acknowledges the impact of chronic sorrow on families and promotes family-centered care. Implementing these strategies can help healthcare professionals provide comprehensive support to individuals living with chronic conditions.


Eakes, G. G., Burke, M. L., & Hainsworth, M. A. (1998). Middle range theory of chronic sorrow. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 30(2), 179-184.

Holtslander, L. F., Kornder, M. A., & Saunders, L. D. (2011). A model of chronic sorrow in parents of children with a chronic illness. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 26(2), 102-112.

Zauszniewski, J. A., Bekhet, A. K., & Suresky, M. J. (2011). Depressive symptoms, physical health, and quality of life in older adults with heart failure. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 26(6), 423-431.

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