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Autoethnography of a Mother with Cancer as a Means of Reflexive Bracketing
SSO:USA Annual Research Conference
  • Julie Baltisberger, MS, OTR/L, University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University
Start Time
21-10-2011 1:35 PM
End Time
21-10-2011 2:05 PM
This presentation will describe the process of reflexive bracketing through autoethnography the author used to identify her own assumptions and biases in preparation for a larger study of experiences of mothers with cancer, and the lessons gleaned from studying her own experience. Autoethnography is a useful research methodology of in occupational science to determine the patterns and meanings of occupation for the individual. According to Ellis and Bochner (2000), an autoethnography is “an autobiographical genre of writing and research that displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal to the cultural” (p. 739). This presentation will describe the results of the author’s study of her experience as a mother of a young daughter while undergoing an autologous stem cell transplant for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Methods: In-depth interviews with key informants, including the author’s husband, her now 11-year old daughter, her closest friend, her mother and her father were conducted, recorded, and transcribed verbatim. Additionally, 48 pages of the presenter’s journal entries reflecting on mothering with cancer were collected. All data were analyzed using line-by-line coding, creating categories and further collapsing of categories through constant comparison, and the development of overall themes. Results: Findings of this autoethnography reveal the impact of physical symptoms of cancer treatments, the need to be a good mother in the face of cancer, the positive role of social supports, post-traumatic growth, and the author’s own assumptions in being a mother with cancer. The iterative process of bracketing and analysis will be discussed along with methodological challenges of the first-person perspective in qualitative research. Implications for future research of mothering during cancer treatments will be discussed. Discussion Questions: What are the challenges of using an autoethnographic approach in occupational science research? What are the benefits of including interviews along with first person narratives in autoethnography? How can autoethnograpy inform future research in occupational science?

Ellis, C., & Bochner, A. P. (2000). Autoethnography, personal narrative, reflexivity: Researcher as subject. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 733-768). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Research paper
Citation Information
Julie Baltisberger. "Autoethnography of a Mother with Cancer as a Means of Reflexive Bracketing" (2011)
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