Constructing personal and couple narratives in late stage cancer: A narrative analysis

Anthias, Louise (2015) Constructing personal and couple narratives in late stage cancer: A narrative analysis. DSysPsych thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. Full text available

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An increasing number of people with terminal cancer are being cared for at home, often by their partner. This study explores the identity, experiences and relationships of people caring for their partner at the end of life and how they construct their experience through personal and couple narratives. It draws upon dialogical approaches to narrative analysis to focus on caring partners and the care relationship. Six participants were recruited for the study. Two methods of data collection are used: narrative interviews and journals. Following individual case analysis, two methods of cross-narrative analysis are used: an analysis of narrative themes and an identification of narrative types. The key findings can be summarised as follows. First, in the period since their partner's terminal prognosis, participants sustained and reconstructed self and couple relationship narratives. These narratives aided the construction of meaning and coherence at a time of major biographical disruption: the anticipated loss of a partner. Second, the study highlights the complexity of spoken and unspoken narratives in terminal cancer and how these relate to individual and couple identities. Third, a typology of archetypal narratives based upon the data is identified. The blow-by-blow narratives illustrate how participants sought to construct coherence and meaning in the illness story, while champion and resilience narratives demonstrate how participants utilised positive self and relational narratives to manage a time of biographical disruption. The study highlights how this narrative approach can enhance understanding of the experiences and identities of people caring for a terminally ill partner.

Item Type: Thesis (DSysPsych)
Additional Information: A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of East London in collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust for the Professional Doctorate in Systemic Psychotherapy
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Systemic Psychotherapy, Physical Illness, Terminal Illness
Subjects: Couple & Family Therapies > Couple/Marital Therapy
Couple & Family Therapies > Narrative Therapy
Health and Medical Sciences > Patient Care
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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