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“An Arena for Sharing”: Exploring the Joint Involvement of Patients and Their Relatives in a Cancer Rehabilitation Intervention Study

la Cour, Karen OT, MSc, PhD; Ledderer, Loni RN, MPM, PhD; Hansen, Helle Ploug RN, MA, PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000149
Articles: Online Only

Background: Despite an increasing focus on cancer rehabilitation programs, there is limited knowledge about the experiences of residential rehabilitation focusing on both the patients and their relatives.

Objective: The aim of this study was to explore the experienced benefits of the joint involvement of patients and their relatives in a 5-day residential cancer rehabilitation course, provided as part of a larger intervention study in Denmark.

Methods: Ethnographic fieldwork, consisting of participant observations and informal conversations, was conducted with 20 individuals (10 patients and 10 relatives). In-depth interviews were conducted in the participants’ homes 1 month after the rehabilitation course. Data were analyzed by a constant comparative method.

Results: Residential rehabilitation course was identified to serve as an “arena for sharing,” underpinned by 3 dimensions of sharing: sharing cancer experiences, sharing strategies, and sharing mutual care.

Conclusion: Sharing in residential rehabilitation is experienced as useful for cancer patients and their relatives, to validate cancer-related strategies and strengthen mutual understanding within relationships.

Implications for Practice: The results can guide the development of cancer rehabilitation to involve patients and their relatives and provide opportunity for sharing and empowerment on individual as well as couple and group levels.

Author Affiliations: Research Unit Health, Man and Society, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense (Drs la Cour and Hansen); and Section for Health Promotion and Health Services, Institute of Public Health, Aarhus University, Denmark (Dr Ledderer).

The Danish Milieu for Humanistic Cancer Research ( provided support for discussions and writing seminars, which was of value to this study. The study was funded by the Danish Cancer Society (Grant number OKV 08008).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Karen la Cour, OT, MSc, PhD, Research Unit Health, Man and Society, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winsløws Vej 9B, 5000 Odense, Denmark (

Accepted for publication February 17, 2014.

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