Meanings of spirituality and well-being at the cancer drop-in

Watts, Jacqueline H. (2009). Meanings of spirituality and well-being at the cancer drop-in. In: International Sociological Association RC15 International Conference - Health for All: Opportunities and Challenges, 21-23 Sep 2009, Jaipur, India.



Spirituality is a contested concept with a wide taxonomy of meaning discussed in the literature. Within the domain of health care, there has been increasing interest in the importance of understanding and valuing patients’ individual spirituality as a function of providing appropriate support, particularly as part of nursing practice. This article reports on an ethnographic participant observation study that explored the cancer day care provision of a community hospice trust located in Southern England. The aims of the study were to explore why users of day care came to the sessions and the perceived benefits of attending. Secondary analysis of the data undertaken after initial reporting on the findings has revealed the ways in which participants construct their core life meaning as personal spirituality. Drawing on literature that discusses the multi-faceted concept of spirituality, the data suggest that relationships and citizenship work are key spiritual components in the lives of these participants, with both these elements significantly contributing to well-being and the maintenance of a congruent ‘self’. ‘Doing’ rather than ‘being’ is at the core of spiritual essence for those undertaking citizenship work, with this engagement with the world as one form of transcendence.

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