Beyond Patienthood: Integrative medicine, healing environments and the journey toward new selfhood.

A M Kabel


The purpose of this study is to learn about the relationship between participation in an integrative medicine program and the impact upon the social identities of seven individuals with cancer. Data were collected via semi-structured, face-to-face interviews and observations in the clinic space, and analyzed using a constant comparison method. All of the participants reported a change in their social identities as they transitioned between illness and wellness. The sub-themes that emerged included: the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as a means of fighting cancer after chemotherapy ended, maintaining health becoming a main occupation, and the “cancer filter” through which all other experiences are viewed, shaping the post-treatment phase of life. Overall, findings suggest that seeking CAM played a role in the participants’ transitions from selves defined by patient status, to new selves, with new perspectives.

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