Background Living with advanced, incurable disease presents multifaceted adversities which negatively impact on various domains of well-being (McCaffrey, Bradley, Ratcliffe et al., 2016). Whilst initial evidence is promising (Wang, Collet & Lau, 2004; Zeng, Luo, Xie et al., 2014) the role that mindful movement therapies may have on ameliorating patients’ experiences and quality of life (QoL) is not well understood.
Aim Explore how participation in Tai Chi impacted on participants’ experiences of QoL within the context of multi-disciplinary day-therapy hospice care.
Methods A focused ethnography (Wall, 2014) was used to guide data collection in this study. Data was collected with patients (n=19) with advanced, incurable disease who took part in Tai Chi sessions offered at Wheatfields Hospice. Over a six month period, semi-structured interviews, participant observations, and informal conversations were used in order to gain a multi-dimensional, embodied and nuanced understanding of patients’ perceptions of their QoL across four broad domains of well-being (i.e., physical, psychological, social, and spiritual). Data was analysed using a thematic framework approach (Ritchie, Lewis, Nicholls et al., 2013).
Results Two overarching themes (each accompanied by two sub-themes) captured participants’ experiences of their QoL through participation in the hospice-based Tai Chi programme, including:
Mind–body respite (sub–themes: being present in the moment and embodied peace)
Social engagement (sub–themes: meaningful social connections and mutual empathy and reciprocal support).
Conclusion These findings provide evidence for the value of mindful movement therapies (such as Tai Chi) in serving as a non-pharmacological adjunct to conventional palliative care treatment in improving the QoL of patients with advanced, incurable disease regardless of disease type.
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