Rehabilitation interventions for cancer survivors: The influence of context

Helle Ploug Hansen, Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen, Christoffer Johansen


    BACKGROUND: Today more and more people survive cancer. Cancer survivors need help to recover both from the cancer and the treatment. Rehabilitative interventions have been set up to meet their needs. However, there are studies that report no major effects following careful, targeted intervention. Furthermore, it seems difficult to define whether an effect is caused by the intervention or whether it is due to contextual parameters such as human interactions, the organisation, the staff, the physical surroundings or the general atmosphere. The present study examines the influence of three contextual parameters in rehabilitation courses for cancer survivors in Denmark.

    METHODS: The study was based on an ethnographic fieldwork with participant observation at nine week-long courses, on in-depth interviews and on written sources. Fieldwork is well-suited for studying interventions in context, such as social interactions between people and their physical, material and institutional surroundings. The analysis is based on Duranti's and Goodwin's theoretical approach to context.

    RESULTS: The findings are categorised into three contextual parameters. The setting, including its aesthetic value, its physical surroundings and the scheduling of the courses. The behavioural environment, which comprised work commitment and the care provided by the staff. The language environment insofar as it facilitated a sense of community.

    DISCUSSION: The results demonstrate the influence of contextual parameters not formalised in the intervention programme. Contexts affect the outcome of an intervention because they frame and inform the teaching, communication and various forms of social gathering. The study suggests that the effects of the intervention as measured by quantitative studies cannot be properly interpreted without taking into account the context within which the intervention is embedded.

    TidsskriftActa oncologica
    Udgave nummer2
    Sider (fra-til)259-64
    Antal sider6
    StatusUdgivet - feb. 2011


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