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Living in a state of suspension - a phenomenological approach to the spouse's experience of oral cancer
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical Sciences, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Health Services Research.
2008 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, ISSN 0283-9318, E-ISSN 1471-6712, Vol. 22, no 1, 40-47 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The consequences of oral cancer may affect not only the patient, but also their spouses, as the mouth is vital for communication, social interaction and nutrition. Treatment is complex, lengthy and involves a large number of medical and dental professionals. During the treatment of oral cancer spouses are often present when the patients meet the treatment team. While nursing and medical staff have experience of meeting both patients and spouses, dental teams may not. The aim of this phenomenological study was to describe oral cancer and its treatment as experienced by the patient's spouses. A purposeful sample of seven spouses was interviewed. The existentials of lived relations, lived body and lived space and time were used as interpretive means in analysing the data to illuminate the spouses' everyday experiences during treatment. The findings reveal that the experience of lived relations changes from being spouse to supportive carer, the lived body is neglected and lived space and time becomes restricted. The essence of their lived experience can be described as living in a state of suspension. This knowledge may be useful in the education and organization of supportive communication for multiprofessional caregivers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 22, no 1, 40-47 p.
Keyword [en]
oral cancer, spouse, phenomenology, lived experience, multiprofessional care, communication
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-96359DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2007.00525.xISI: 000252963800006PubMedID: 18269421OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-96359DiVA: diva2:170909
Available from: 2007-11-08 Created: 2007-11-08 Last updated: 2011-01-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Understanding Oral Cancer - A Lifeworld Approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Understanding Oral Cancer - A Lifeworld Approach
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Dental involvement with oral cancer patients during their treatment and rehabilitation can be long and intense. How can dental personnel better understand their role in the treatment of these patients? How does treatment affect the patients and their spouses? In searching for answers, the theories of phenomenography, phenomenology and hermeneutics are used to describe and interpret the experiences of the hospital dental treatment teams, oral cancer patients, and their spouses.

Study I reveals that hospital dental treatment teams perceive the encounter with head and neck cancer patients in three qualitatively different ways; as an act of caring, as a serious and responsible task, and as an overwhelming emotional situation, indicating that they are not always able to lean on education and professional training in dealing with situations with strong emotional impact. Study II gives insight into the lifeworld of oral cancer patients, and how the patient becomes embodied in a mouth that is increasingly `uncanny´, as it slowly ceases to function normally. Study III shows that oral cancer puts a hold on the lifeworld of the patients’ spouses which can be described as `living in a state of suspension´. These findings suggest that the support needs of patients and spouses appear to be greatest at treatment end, when, upon returning home, they are faced with the accumulated impact of the patients’ sickness and treatment. Study IV gives insight into what it may mean to live with the consequences of oral cancer, revealing a silent physical, emotional and existential struggle to adjust to a changed way of living.

This thesis raises the question if todays’ organisation of oral cancer care can meet the varying emotional and existential needs of treatment teams, patients and spouses that were brought to light.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2007. 64 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 284
Surgery, Oral cancer, Dentistry, Lifeworld approach, Phenomenography, Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Multiprofessional collabotation, Kirurgi
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-8284 (URN)978-91-554-7004-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-11-29, Fåhreussalen, Rudbecklaboratoriet, Dag Hammarskjölds vag 20, Uppsala, 13:15
Available from: 2007-11-08 Created: 2007-11-08 Last updated: 2010-12-28Bibliographically approved

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Röing, MartaHolmström, Inger
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