In this study, the authors examined the process that family members go through when they are confronted with traumatic coma. They conducted 24 semistructured interviews with 22 family members of 16 coma patients and analyzed the data using the constant comparative method as proposed by grounded theory.
Hope was the most prominent theme. It can be described as keeping a possible positive outcome in mind in an uncertain situation, knowing that this outcome is unlikely to happen. Hope was found to evolve stepwise up and down, dependent on further events and information: big steps at first, smaller later on. Hope helps family members to keep going and to manage care for the patient and for each other. Family members were found to protect themselves against false or unjustified hope by seeking valid information. They alternate their moments of despair, and in their interactions they respect each other's hope.