Background: A dearth of knowledge and information exist about the understanding of the experience of surviving a life-threatening illness such as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (Ebola). Objectives: To understand the ways in which survivors of Ebola understood the experience of surviving a life-threatening illness. Methods: Eleven participants were asked to illustrate their understanding of the experience of surviving Ebola. Using drawings and interviews as data, a phenomenographic approach was used to guide the research process and to analyse data. Results: Analysis revealed four ways of understanding the experience. These are described as categories of descriptions or conceptions, namely, escape in peaceful awareness, hope for a world outside of fear, persistence in defying death, and constant fear of dying. Importantly, the structure and referential aspects of the experiences are portrayed in the form of an outcome space, which is the understanding of the experience of living as survivors of Ebola, described as both 'living in fear of the predatory spectre', while simultaneously 'living in constant hopefulness'. This experience is illustrated as paradoxically living in fear while concurrently hoping for life. Discussion: Understanding the experience of survivors of a life-threatening illness is significant to nursing and its practice. Critical to this significance is its influence on the practice of compassionate and competent nursing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas