A Phenomenological Inquiry into the Embodied Nature of Occupation at End of Life
Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy / Revue Canadienne d`Ergotèrapie
phenomenological inquiry into the embodied nature of occupation at end-of-life" (2011). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 98. ABSTRACT The current Canadian milieu depicts a rapidly growing demographic of aging Canadians in need of end-of-life support; however, limited funding and resources are available to provide access to these services. The question of how to foster quality endof-life experiences for people who are terminally ill within this constrained context requires
... . Terminally ill individuals have articulated the inability to engage in activities that make life enjoyable as a factor influencing their decision to hasten their deaths. While occupational scientists and occupational therapists propose that occupation is a basic human need across the lifespan, there is limited understanding of the role of occupation at end-of-life, and its potential to facilitate meaningful end-of-life experiences. The purpose of this work was to examine the embodied nature of occupation at end-oflife, from the perspectives of Canadians 60 years of age or older who are diagnosed with a terminal illness. A phenomenological approach, with a focus on embodiment, was adopted for this study. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight participants. Data collection also involved close, participative observation, embodied methods, and reflexive journaling. Data analysis involved a hermeneutic process utilizing processes of detailed, selective and holistic analysis. This work is comprised of four integrated manuscripts. The first offers a systematic literature review that investigates what has been published about death and dying in the occupation-based literature. The second investigates phenomenology as a fruitful methodological approach for the study of human occupation. The third manuscript reports on an empirical study that examines the embodied nature of occupation at end-ofiv life, and presents the following six emergent findings; participants described orientations toward occupations that involved: living with death, reworking everyday life, being guided by the will of the body, focusing on relationships, attending to the small things, and engaging existential orientations. The final manuscript explores embodied phenomenological research as a methodological approach for qualitative research practices. The thesis contributes to knowledge about human occupation at end-of-life and offers a starting point to guide care practices that are attentive to the lived dimensions of occupation in this life stage.