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Psychol Health. 2009 Dec;24(10):1229-43. doi: 10.1080/08870440802320463.

End of living: maintaining a lifeworld during terminal illness.

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  • 1Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco 94115, USA.


The narrative responses of 32 people with AIDS or cancer with survival prognoses of 6 months to a year to monthly interview questions about their daily lives were analysed with a team-based qualitative methodology. Two groups emerged: (a) a Maintained Lifeworld Group characterised by one or more of the following: continued engagement with family, friends, and community; the ability to relinquish untenable goals and substitute new, realistic ones; engagement in spirituality and a spiritual practice; and, (b) a Lifeworld Interrupted Group characterised by one or more of the following: relocation just before or during the study, cognitive impairment, commitment to untenable goals, ongoing substance abuse. Understanding how people with a terminal illness can maintain a lifeworld and experience well-being while also managing the physical challenges of their illness could help inform the support offered by professional and family caregivers to improve care recipients' quality of life.

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