This phenomenological study explored the perceptions of 20 patients who had undergone an autologous bone marrow transplantation (ABMT). Transcripts from interviews were analyzed for themes. Three themes emerged related to the experience of isolation during and after ABMT: physical isolation (protecting self and others), emotional isolation (protecting self and others), and physical and emotional isolation (supporting self and others). During physical isolation, participants were protected from infection and tried to protect family and friends from emotional burden. However, physical isolation often led to emotional isolation, which the physical presence of others ameliorated, particularly when an emotional presence was coexistent. Emotional presence was a main source of social support. Participants felt family and friends needed more guidance on ways to provide effective support. An important implication for health care professionals is that emotional support in the form of positive presencing should accompany providing information to both patients and family members.
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