Meaning of Occupational Engagement in Life-Threatening Illness: A Qualitative Pilot Project
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INTRODUCTION: The onset of a personal crisis combined with the resultant disruption in occupational routines may challenge a person's identity as a capable and healthy individual. However, it remains unclear how individuals regain a sense of health and well-being in the period following a personal crisis. RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: To explore occupational engagement and its meaning to individuals following a life-threatening diagnosis. METHOD: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three women diagnosed with breast cancer. The data were analyzed using a constant-comparative approach to identify common themes. RESULTS: The primary theme that emerged was "Doing = Living." This theme and the underlying themes illustrated the connection between meaningful occupational engagement and one's self-perception as capable and healthy. These findings suggest that occupational engagement may provide the medium through which 'deconstructive' or 'reconstructive' messages concerning the self are relayed between persons and their environment. IMPLICATIONS: In a period of personal crisis, such as a life-threatening diagnosis, individuals may turn to those occupations that are meaningful to regain a sense of control and normalcy in their lives.
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