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Title: The body and its shadows : an exploration of the bodily experiences of terminally ill patients
Author: Hilário, Patrícia Ana
ISNI:       0000 0004 8497 9657
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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To date, dying and its bodily realities have been a neglected issue within the sociological literature in Portugal and elsewhere. The present study intended to overcome this gap by exploring how and why the sense of self and identity of Portuguese terminally ill patients is affected by the process of bodily deterioration and decay. Thus it was grounded in the interpretative approaches of symbolic interactionism and social constructionism. The data was gathered by means of ethnographic research strategies. Participant observation was carried out in two Portuguese palliative care units and complemented by interviews. A total of ten terminally ill patients were interviewed, along with twenty family members and twenty palliative care professionals. What was particularly revealing was that despite the detrimental impact that the process of bodily deterioration and decay had on a patient's sense of self and identity it did not lead to a debasement of their personhood. This was mainly due to the interpersonal interactions that took place within the palliative care context. The findings outlined suggested that palliative care provides a space for interaction where terminally ill patients could spend their last moments with their loved ones without being preoccupied by uncontrolled pain and symptoms, as well as without the concern of being a burden to them. The familistic nature of Portuguese culture informs the practice of palliative care in this country and thereby influences the processes of interactionality that took place within this environment. The study leads to the conclusion that in the face of dying and its bodily realities palliative care offers to terminally ill patients the opportunity to live fully until their death.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available