Dignity and loss of dignity: Experiences of older women living with incurable cancer at home
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionStaats, K., Grov, E.K., Husebø, B. & Tranvåg, O. (2020). Dignity and loss of dignity: Experiences of older women living with incurable cancer at home. Health Care for Women International,41(9),1036-1058. https://doi.org/10.1080/07399332.2020.1797035 https://doi.org/10.1080/07399332.2020.1797035
In this study, we explored and identified crucial experiences that constitute dignity and loss of dignity among older women living with incurable cancer at home. In-depth interviews with 13 women, and participant observations of five of these women, were performed. Hermeneutical interpretations of interview texts and field notes were conducted. Crucial experiences that preserved the women’s dignity included having a sense of control, making one’s own decisions, experiencing hope and meaningfulness, feeling valued as a human being and having the opportunity to be in a treasured and nurturing environment. Dignity loss was related to losing the opportunity for self-determination, sensing hopelessness and worthlessness in a shroud of illness, experiencing violation of their personal life and being situated in surroundings that enhanced their sense of disconnection and alienation. Quality of care was experienced as more important than the physical place in which to spend their final stage of life. The findings suggest that dignity preservation should be a core dimension in care for older women living with incurable cancer at home. Future research should investigate how dignity-preserving care can be organized and practiced within municipal palliative care services.