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Formulations of living with cancer: a discursive analysis of nurse talk
  1. G Hubbard and
  2. E Forbat
  1. Cancer Care Research Centre, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK


Aim This presentation is regarding a study of the ways in which living with cancer is being formulated by acute sector nurses.

Introduction More complete definitions of cancer survivorship are emerging as evidence accumulates regarding the subject. Yet, what living with cancer is and how it is being formulated by nurses has not been published.

Methods The Discursive Action Model1 provided the theoretical and methodological guide to examine the constructive and functional dimensions of verbal accounts of 20 health professionals, mainly acute sector nurses, gathered during three focus groups conducted in 2008/2009.

Results To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report health professional formulations of living with cancer in the UK. It illustrates the key discursive manoeuvres used by acute sector nurses to construct cancer as a long-term illness, which include the description of on-going physical and psychosocial effects, particularly fear and risk, of recurrence. Importantly, the rationale for locating on-going support in the acute versus community sector is constructed as derived from patient feedback, not from the acute-based staff themselves.

Conclusion Implications for cancer survivors: Cancer is being constructed as a significant and powerful disease as opposed to a trivial and time-limited one; this lends legitimacy to calls for on-going surveillance and support for cancer survivors. The profession that positions itself as being the experts and specialists in cancer is likely to be able to make the claim to provide on-going support with the most authority.

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