The Work of Patients and Spouses in Managing Advanced Cancer at Home
Summary. The purpose of this paper is to report the findings of a descriptive study which identified the resources used by patients with advanced cancer and their spouses to manage at home. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with a sample of seven couples identified through two ambulatory clinics at a regional cancer institute. Participants were patients with advanced cancer, between the ages of 45 and 66, and their spouses. Interviews, conducted with each individual and with each couple, were audiotaped, transcribed, and subjected to qualitative analysis. Content analysis showed that patients and spouses utilized internal and external resources, and that external resources were either physical or interpersonal in nature. Conceptual analysis indicated that both patients and spouses dealt with facing either inevitable or uncertain death by engaging in various types of “work.” Understanding the dimensions of such work has implications for health care professionals caring for patients and families in palliative care.