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TitleAn "inside story" : the illness experience of women with breast cancer
AuthorBerger, Shirley
SubjectClinical Psychology
AbstractBibliography: leaves i-ix.
AbstractThis study explores the illness experiences of five women with breast cancer. The literature on psychosocial aspects of breast cancer among women is reviewed and limitations noted. A medical anthropological approach to the study of illness and health care is outlined. The importance of investigating women"s own accounts and of recognising the social experience of illness and the dynamic nature of responses and understandings is asserted. Two interviews with each woman took place soon after medical diagnosis and follow-up interviews were conducted eight months later with four of the women. Concepts and insights from hermeneutically-oriented medical anthropology have been applied to the interview material. Arthur Kleinman"s framework for interpreting "illness narratives" is used to elucidate the layers of meaning in each woman"s story. These include: the meaning of the symptoms, explanations of the disease, the cultural salience of cancer and the significance of the illness within personal and social contexts. The way in which the illness is understood, expressed and managed within the patterns of daily living is discussed. Contact with the professional health care system is one aspect of this process. The study suggests that this approach to understanding women"s experiences of breast cancer is both theoretically valuable and clinically applicable.
PublisherUniversity of Cape Town
PublisherFaculty of Humanities
PublisherDepartment of Psychology