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Understanding fear of cancer recurrence in terms of damage to 'everyday health competence'

Horlick-Jones, Thomas Edward 2011. Understanding fear of cancer recurrence in terms of damage to 'everyday health competence'. Sociology of Health & Illness 33 (6) , pp. 884-898. 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2010.01325.x

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Advances in clinical treatments are resulting in cancer patients living longer, but with the threat of the disease returning at some later date. Anxiety associated with this fear of recurrence, which seems widespread among patients, can lead to an enhanced bodily awareness and a pronounced tendency to interpret mundane sensations as symptoms of pathology. Relatively little sociological work has been done to systematically document, understand, and find ways of addressing, this syndrome and its impact on the quality of patients’ lives. It is argued that this syndrome is best understood not in cognitive terms, as a form of irrationality, but rather as resulting from damage to certain aspects of social competence, namely one’s ‘everyday health competence’. In investigating this issue, the author draws upon his personal experience of breast cancer diagnosis, surgery and adjuvant therapy; and on a broadly phenomenological approach to examining the relationship between bodily sensations and practical reasoning about experience. The implications for clinical practice are considered briefly.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0254 Neoplasms. Tumors. Oncology (including Cancer)
Uncontrolled Keywords: fear of cancer recurrence; male breast cancer; bodily awareness; symptoms; practical reasoning; everyday health competence
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing and the Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness
ISSN: 0141-9889
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:40

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