Embodiment and Objectification in Illness and Health Care: Taking Phenomenology from Theory to Practice

Journal of Clinical Nursing 29 (21-22):4403-4412 (2020)
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Aims and Objectives. This article uses the concept of embodiment to demonstrate a conceptual approach to applied phenomenology. Background. Traditionally, qualitative researchers and healthcare professionals have been taught phenomenological methods, such as the epoché, reduction, or bracketing. These methods are typically construed as a way of avoiding biases so that one may attend to the phenomena in an open and unprejudiced way. However, it has also been argued that qualitative researchers and healthcare professionals can benefit from phenomenology’s well-articulated theoretical framework, which consists of core concepts, such as selfhood, empathy, temporality, spatiality, affectivity, and embodiment. Design. This is a discursive article that demonstrates a conceptual approach to applied phenomenology. Method. To outline and explain this approach to applied phenomenology, the Discussion section walks the reader through four stages of phenomenology, which progress incrementally from the most theoretical to the most practical. Discussion. Part one introduces the philosophical concept of embodiment, which can be applied broadly to any human subject. Part two shows how philosophically trained phenomenologists use the concept of embodiment to describe general features of illness and disability. Part three illustrates how the phenomenological concept of embodiment can inform empirical qualitative studies and reflects on the challenges of integrating philosophy and qualitative research. Part four turns to phenomenology’s application in clinical practice and outlines a workshop model that guides clinicians through the process of using phenomenological concepts to better understand patient experience. Conclusion and Relevance to Clinical Practice. A conceptual approach to applied phenomenology provides a valuable alternative to traditional methodological approaches. Phenomenological concepts provide a foundation for better understanding patient experience in both qualitative health research and clinical practice, and therefore provide resources for enhancing patient care.

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Anthony Vincent Fernandez
University of Southern Denmark


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