Using Liminality and Subjunctivity to Better Understand How Patients With Cancer Experience Uncertainty Throughout Their Illness Trajectory

Stephanie Dauphin*, Steven Van Wolputte, Leontien Jansen, Tine De Burghgraeve, Frank Buntinx, Marjan van den Akker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1049732319880542
Pages (from-to)356-365
Number of pages10
JournalQualitative Health Research
Volume30
Issue number3
Early online date16 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Keywords

  • illness experiences
  • cancer patients
  • uncertainty
  • liminality
  • subjunctivity
  • qualitative research
  • Europe
  • BREAST-CANCER
  • MANAGEMENT INTERVENTION
  • BIOGRAPHICAL DISRUPTION
  • AFRICAN-AMERICAN
  • PROSTATE
  • WOMEN
  • CARE
  • ADJUSTMENT
  • FRAMEWORK
  • BENEFITS

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