Objectives: Patients’ lived experience of illness and health is receiving increased attention in the medical field. Understanding patients’ perspective and experiences is an undoubted asset for efficient health interventions and improved clinical concordance. Patients’ experiences of care and cure, however, are influenced by the cultural setting in which these experiences take place. This implies that health interventions should be ‘‘ecological’’ and attuned to the specific sociocultural context of the patients. Methods: Our research group is conducting a cross-cultural qualitative study aimed ad exploring how fatigue (a symptom very common in cancer) is perceived and manifested by patients in different countries (Canada, Thailand, England and Italy). In order to achieve this, the study was design according to the method of Ethnoscience, that appeared to us the best suited to explore themeanings that patients attribute to their state and the linguistic patterns they use to describe it. In this paper we will describe in details the process of Ethnoscience and will discuss the heuristic value of this research approach. Results: Ethnoscience was an effective research strategy for exploring how beliefs and values shape symptoms and the behavioural manifestations of cancer related fatigue. Conclusions: This paper discusses the heuristic value of Ethnoscience and its applicability to the study of health relate topics, particularly those where issues of social construction are important. Practical implications: Ethnoscience is a promising and innovative research approach, able to cast light on the way people experience and make sense of their illness.
- qualitative research