OBJECTIVE. Life-threatening illness profoundly affects people’s occupational functioning, yet continuing occupational engagement seems vital to their well-being. This qualitative study used a doing-being-becoming framework to explore the place of occupation in human lives threatened by illness.
METHOD. The experiences of 13 male and 10 female day hospice participants were investigated through a combination of focus groups, individual interviews, and participant observation. These data were interpreted by a process of constant comparison, coding, and theme building.
RESULTS. Experiences of doing were evident in accounts of losing and maintaining valued occupations and striving to preserve physical and mental functioning. A sense of being through occupational engagement arose in social relationships and self-exploration that enhanced feelings of self-worth. Occupation promoted the experience of becoming by providing fresh learning opportunities and a sense of contributing to others’ welfare.
CONCLUSION. The data offer new insights into the potential benefits of occupational engagement for persons dealing with life-threatening illnesses. Use of the doing-being-becoming framework enriched analysis of these data, which, in turn, have contributed to the understanding of the framework’s theoretical concepts.