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Living in the mo(ve)ment: An ethnographic exploration of hospice patients’ experiences of participating in Tai Chi

Burke, Shaunna M.; Bradshaw, Andy; Phoenix, Cassandra; Shaunna, Burke


Shaunna M. Burke

Andy Bradshaw

Cassandra Phoenix

Burke Shaunna


Purpose: Tai Chi is increasingly being used as a complimentary therapy in hospice care to help patients self-manage multiple and complex health needs. However, currently there is limited understanding of Tai Chi from patients’ perspective, including what participation in this mindfulness based movement (MBM) exercise means to their experiences of living with an advanced, incurable disease. The purpose of this study was to explore outpatients’ lived experiences of hospice-based Tai Chi in relation to mindfulness. Methods: 19 participants (15 females; 4 males, aged between 50 and 91 years old) with a range of advanced, incurable diseases (cancer, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension) who attended day therapy at a local hospice took part in Tai Chi sessions. Using a focused ethnographic approach, multi-methods including 17 semi-structured interviews (averaging 40 min), participant observations (equating to 200 h spent in the day therapy unit), and informal conversations were used to collect data over a 6 month period. Data was analysed using a thematic framework approach. Results: Four main themes were constructed that demonstrated participants’ lived experiences of mindfulness during participation in hospice-based Tai Chi sessions. Main themes included: (1) mind-body respite; (2) being present with others; (3) tranquil and therapeutic atmosphere and; (4) physical limitations. Conclusion: Tai Chi may be an important therapeutic strategy for helping patients with advanced, incurable disease experience mindfulness. The findings of this study support the use of MBM exercises such as Tai Chi as a non-pharmacological adjunct to conventional treatments within palliative care settings.


Burke, S. M., Bradshaw, A., Phoenix, C., & Shaunna, B. (2020). Living in the mo(ve)ment: An ethnographic exploration of hospice patients’ experiences of participating in Tai Chi. Psychology of sport and exercise, 49, Article 101687.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 10, 2020
Online Publication Date Mar 13, 2020
Publication Date 2020-07
Deposit Date May 27, 2020
Publicly Available Date Sep 14, 2021
Journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise
Print ISSN 1469-0292
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Article Number 101687
Keywords Tai chi; Palliative care; Advanced disease; Mindfulness; Qualitative research; Ethnography
Public URL
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