The balance we seek A sequential narrative analysis of childhood cancer blogs

Purpose . The research aimed to identify the narratives and themes about the experience of parenting a child with cancer, analyze the social interaction present in illness blogs created by parents of children with cancer and identify the reasons expressed by parents in the blogs for writing and publ...

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Author: Catherine McGeehin Heilferty
Degree Work Type: Dissertation (Ph.D.)
Institution: Villanova University
Format: Degree Work
Language: English
Published: 2011
Subjects:
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Summary: Purpose . The research aimed to identify the narratives and themes about the experience of parenting a child with cancer, analyze the social interaction present in illness blogs created by parents of children with cancer and identify the reasons expressed by parents in the blogs for writing and publishing online. Questions . The following three research questions were posed: (1) What life stories are evident in blogs created by parents of children with cancer? (2) What themes are evident in the illness narratives contained in these blogs? and (3) What is the influence of author-reader interactivity expressed in illness blogs about the experience of parenting a child through cancer? Method . Nine illness blogs created by parents of children with neuroblastoma and five by parents of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia found using modified snowball sampling, met inclusion criteria and proved sufficient to reach informational redundancy. Three narrative analytic approaches were used sequentially to analyze the illness blogs from different but concomitant perspectives: life story, thematic analysis and Narrative-in-Interaction narrative analysis. The Natural History of the Illness framework was employed to analyze blogs within the context of the diagnostic, treatment and off-treatment phases of the illnesses. Findings . The life story analysis of two blogs resulted in creation of two summaries of the parents' narrative of the entire illness experiences. Thematic analysis of all 14 blogs led to discovery of two major groups: thematic categories and performative acts of the authors. Five thematic categories were found in the narratives: uncertainty/uncertainty management; stress/stress management; burdens/gifts; change/constants; and public/private life. Performative acts by the bloggers included reflecting; reporting; expressing; advocating; archiving; and explaining. Analysis of author-reader interactivity identified two major thematic categories: co-creation, defined as the process through which blogger and reader influenced each other and ballast, defined as the readers' efforts to support and affirm the blogger. Conclusion . The recurring theme in the blogs was the quest for balance between life's buffeting and steadying forces. Author-reader interactivity, one of the defining attributes of illness blogs, was found to strongly influence the quest for equilibrium longed for by these parents in significant ways. The findings suggest that attention to parent blog content by nurses and other health care providers is important in understanding the day-to-day experiences of parents with children with cancer and can contribute to improving family satisfaction with care and patient care outcomes including quality of life concerns. Recommendations . Research on illness blogs is expected to lead to the development of a middle range theory of online communication in illness. Parent narratives from these blogs will guide new research as nurses seek to discover greater understanding of family life with childhood cancer. Further clarification of the meaning of balance to parents and the influence of online communication during illness is needed. More needs to be known about the relationship between blogging and parental measures of uncertainty, anxiety and identity change in the experience of childhood cancer. Research into the relationship between parent contributions to the medical record and family satisfaction, patient care outcomes and the prevention of medical errors would also prove useful.
Physical Description: 468p
ISBN: 9781124737430