A psychological structure pertaining to the meaning of recreational programmes in the natural environment for those living with and beyond cancer

  • Oliver James Thurlow

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In this study, a descriptive phenomenological approach was applied to discern the
meaning of recreational programmes in the natural environment for those living with
and beyond cancer. Over the past twenty years, significant healthcare strategies
have been developed and commissioned to support the increasing numbers of
those living with and beyond cancer. At present, there has been an increased effort
to assist those living with and beyond cancer during the rehabilitation and
survivorship phase of the cancer trajectory, with emphasis being placed on the
recently established ‘recovery package’. Whilst acknowledging the position that
structured physical activity interventions and follow-up questionnaires now assume
in this strategic development, this study followed recommendations to explore the
contrary for the sake of increasing awareness of meaningful, alternative options.
This involved undertaking a descriptive phenomenological study of unstructured
recreational programmes in the natural environment facilitated by a civil society
organisation (Burke et al., 2017).

Twelve participants were recruited and interviewed to extrapolate an essential
description and psychological structure of their experiences of the 4 Cancer Group’s
recreational programmes. After analysing the data through a psychological
perspective (Giorgi, 2009), six empirical constituents were identified as being
essential for the participants’ experience. The constituents included awareness of
the changes to one’s reality due to chronic illness, a sense of openness to want to
experience other opportunities, movements towards experiencing the present
moment, renewed insight into one’s physical potential, a willingness to engage with
and listen to others living with and beyond cancer, and anticipation of the presence
of the future, all of which had experiential networks within. Firstly, the findings were
critically examined in a manner that elaborated on the interplay of psychological
rigidity and openness. The findings were then reflectively analysed through a
phenomenological commentary and discussion of the scholarly literature to draw out
a greater conversation of the philosophical and academic position of the study. The
study concludes by presenting the originality of the findings, emphasising how a
descriptive analysis has presented a psychological structure of meaning through the
experiential givenness of recreational programmes for those living with and beyond
Date of AwardOct 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorKathleen Galvin (Supervisor) & Kitty Suddick (Supervisor)

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