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.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.