Identity and home when living with advanced cancer

Mærsk, J. L. (Lecturer)

    Activity: Talks and presentationsTalks and presentations in private or public companies


    Home is the start- and endpoint for many activities in everyday life. Home is a place of personal accomplishment and mastery, and an autobiographical extension of the self (Molony, 2010). Similarly, objects and possessions within the home environment may be symbolic signs of the self. Using, creating, and interacting with objects and possessions can be a way of forming and cultivating the sense of self and identity. Accordingly the home environment is of importance to how people form and express their identity. For people living with advanced cancer in Denmark their home is of central importance to the life they live. Their home is where they spent most of their time, and where they are engaged in most of their daily activities. For about 80% of this particular group their home is the preferred place to die (la Cour, Nordell & Josephsson, 2009; Neergaard, et al., 2011). Consequently it is an area of concern how home modifications, assistive devices, nursing, and care services delivered in the home, as part of the palliative treatment in Denmark, may affect how people with advanced cancer form and express their identity in the last stages of life.

    Research question
    The purpose of this study is to investigate how people living with advanced cancer experience that their identity can be affected by their cancer and the treatment and support they receive in their home environment.

    Grounded Theory is used to guide the collection and analysis of qualitative data from approximately 20 people with advanced cancer who receive treatment in their home (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). Interviews, participant observations, and participant diaries is used to collect data. Each participant is followed for three weeks. During the first week they are interviewed using a semi-structured format. In the following period they write diaries in which they describe how events in their daily life at home affect their identity. During this period they are also observed in their home. At the end of the period a follow up interview is conducted based on the initial interview, observations and the content of the entries in their diaries.

    The presentation will be based on preliminary results form this ongoing study with special attention to the importance of the emotional and interactional relationship with the home environment to the formation and expression of identity when living with advanced cancer.

    This study may contribute to the growing body of research on identity that has emerged within occupational science for the past ten years. However this study may add further facets to contemporary understanding of identity within Occupational Science as the homes of the participants is regarded as a central element to their identity formation. In this study home is more than a mere backdrop to where occupation takes place, homes is viewed as being centripetally to formation and expression of identity.
    Period5. Sep 20137. Sep 2013
    Event typeConference
    LocationCork, Ireland