Identity and home: Understanding the experience of people with advanced cancer

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore how the identity of people with advanced cancer is influenced by their experiences of living at home. A total of 28 in-depth interviews were conducted with 22 people with advanced cancer and four spouses. Grounded theory guided the collection and analysis of data. Home tours and associated field notes augmented the interview data. The analysis revealed that support of participants’ identity was reflected in their abilities to live and occupy the home during daily activities, and in the ways the home and objects functioned as referents to themselves and their past. Threats to their identity ensued as the home environment became unmanageable during daily activities and as homecare professionals and assistive devices entered the home. By supporting people with advanced cancer in maintaining daily activities in the home and reducing changes in the home caused by homecare it is possible to reduce loss of identity.

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