Using liminality and subjunctivity to better understand how patients with cancer experience uncertainty throughout their illness trajectory

  • Uncertainty is a central theme in the illness experiences of older cancer patients throughout their illness trajectory. Mishel’s popular theory on uncertainty during illness approaches uncertainty as an outcome and is characterized by the patient’s inability to find meaning in illness events. This study used the concepts of liminality and subjunctivity to explore uncertainty throughout the illness trajectory of cancer patients. We interviewed 18 older (age range = 57–92 years) patients with breast cancer or gastro-intestinal cancer 3 to 4 years post diagnosis. Our analysis is based on the QUAGOL guide that draws on elements of grounded theory such as constant comparison. We found that liminality and subjunctivity provide a useful frame for understanding uncertainty with a specific focus on its productive potential and meaning making. Health care professionals should be open to acquiring a complete picture of patients’ diverse and dynamic experiences of uncertainty in the different stages of their illness trajectory.

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Author:Stephanie Dauphin, Steven van Wolputte, Leontien JansenORCiD, Tine de BurghgraeveORCiD, Marjan van den AkkerORCiDGND, Frank BuntinxORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Qualitative Health Research
Publisher:SAGE Publications
Place of publication:London [u. a.]
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2020
Date of first Publication:2019/10/16
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/08/27
Tag:Europe; cancer patients; illness experiences; liminality; qualitative research; subjunctivity; uncertainty
Page Number:10
First Page:356
Last Page:365
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht