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Older people with incurable cancer: Existential meaning-making from a life-span perspective
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology, The Social Sciences of Religion, Psychology of Religions. (IMPACT)
2016 (English)In: Palliative and Supportive Care, Vol. 14, no 1, 20-32 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: An increasing number of older people in Western countries are living with incurable cancer, receiving palliative care from specialized healthcare contexts. The aim of our article was to understand how they experience the existential meaning-making function in daily living from a life-span perspective. Method: Some 21 participants (12 men and 9 women), aged 70-88, were interviewed in a semistructured framework. They were recruited from somatic hospitals in southeastern Norway. We applied the model of selective optimization with compensation (SOC) from life-span developmental psychology in a deductive manner to explore the participants' life-oriented adaptive strategies. A meaning component was added to the SOC model. Results: The participants experienced the existential meaning-making function on two levels. On a superordinate level, it was an important component for interpreting and coordinating the adaptive strategies of SOC for reaching the most important goals in daily living. The existential meaning-making framework provided for a comprehensive understanding of resilience, allowing for both restoration and growth components to be identified. The second level was related to strategy, in that the existential meaning-making function was involved in a complex interaction with behavioral resources and resilience, leading to continuation of goals and more realistic goal adjustments. A few experienced existential meaning-making dysfunction. Significance of results: The modified SOC model was seen as applicable for palliative care in specialized healthcare contexts. Employing the existential meaning-making framework with its complementary understanding of resilience as growth potential to the SOC model's restoration potential can help older people to identify how they make meaning and how this influences their adaptation process to being incurably sick.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 14, no 1, 20-32 p.
Keyword [en]
Palliative care; Gerontology; Selective optimization with compensation; Existential meaning-making; Resilience
National Category
Nursing Religious Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-276776DOI: 10.1017/S1478951515000644ISI: 000370860400005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-276776DiVA: diva2:903459
Available from: 2016-02-15 Created: 2016-02-15 Last updated: 2016-04-05Bibliographically approved

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DeMarinis, Valerie
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