Objectives: In the clinical setting of cancer, meaning may well have a central role in the life changes the illness experience brings about. As health care professionals working with people with life-threatening illness, we are exposed to one of the major turning points in life and the ways people confront this transition. Meaning can assist coping by offering a framework, perspective, and counterbalance to the challenge of illness. However, the absence of meaning can be a precursor to profound despair. Methods: This article brings together the clinical implications of two studies conducted by the authors that explored the role of meaning in adjustment to cancer, presenting a theoretical understanding of the experience of meaning in cancer and identifying some potential approaches to intervention. Results: Our findings point to some specific goals of care as well as a number of therapeutic modalities aimed to meet these goals. We examine four goals of care-acknowledging suffering, encouraging a search for meaning, strengthening connection with others, and ensuring optimal physical care-as foundational in any clinical approach and then examine the key models of therapy that assist the clinician in pursuing these goals. Significance of results: Our aim is to create an integrated approach to care provision that locates meaning centrally in any patient's adaptation.
- Adjustment to cancer
- Meaning based coping
- Psychosocial intervention
- Strengthening connection with others