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Lost in an unknown terrain: a phenomenological contribution to the understanding of existential concerns as experienced by young women in Sweden
University of Borås, Faculty of Caring Science, Work Life and Social Welfare. (Livsvärldsgruppen)
University of Borås, Faculty of Caring Science, Work Life and Social Welfare. (Livsvärldsgruppen)
Linneaus University .
University of Borås, Faculty of Caring Science, Work Life and Social Welfare. (Livsvärldsgruppen)
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2019 (English)In: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, ISSN 1748-2623, E-ISSN 1748-2631, Vol. 14, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Sustainable development
According to the author(s), the content of this publication falls within the area of sustainable development.
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The aim of this study is to describe young women's (16-25 years old) experiences of living with existential concerns for which they have sought support from healthcare professionals, teachers, family, or friends, among others.

Methods: This phenomenological study is based on a reflective lifeworld research (RLR) approach. Nine young women were interviewed about their experience of living with existential concerns.

Results: The results show the essential meaning of the phenomenon of "existential concerns" that can be described as living a life that is marked in a profound way by a feeling of being lost in an unknown terrain. To further understand the essential meaning, four constituents are described: the unpredictable body, longing for comprehension, playing a game, and longing to share one's vulnerability.

Conclusions: Young women with existential concerns are vulnerable, as they are profoundly influenced by these concerns. They have to navigate through daily life while trying to fit in and to make their situation comprehensible. These young women have a longing to share their existential concerns with a trustworthy person, while at the same time they fear revealing their existential concerns and risking being rejected by others. A lifeworld-led, caring science approach, intertwined with the results of the present study, has the potential to direct caring practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 14, no 1
Keywords [en]
Caring science, existential concerns, mental health, phenomenology, reflective lifeworld research, young women
National Category
Nursing
Research subject
Människan i vården
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-21736DOI: 10.1080/17482631.2019.1658843ISI: 000482928300001PubMedID: 31451104Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85071260290OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-21736DiVA, id: diva2:1351740
Available from: 2019-09-16 Created: 2019-09-16 Last updated: 2022-11-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Sårbarhet, mod och inbjudan: Unga vuxnas strävan efter välbefinnande i en tillvaro präglad av existentiell oro
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sårbarhet, mod och inbjudan: Unga vuxnas strävan efter välbefinnande i en tillvaro präglad av existentiell oro
2020 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Aim: The overall aim of the thesis is to examine how young adults experiences life living with existential concerns and how well-being is enabled when living with existential concerns. 

Approach and method: A reflective lifeworld research (RLR) approach guided this dissertation’s methodological approach. Lifeworld interviews were performed in all four studies and analyses were conducted according to RLR principles: bridled attitude, openness, and compliance to the studies’ different phenomena. Study I describes healthcare professionals’ experiences of conversations with young adults experiencing existential concerns. Eleven lifeworld interviews (seven individual-, two pair- and two group interviews) were conducted with seventeen healthcare professionals from various fields. Data was analysed via phenomenological-based thematic meaning analysis. Studies II and III describes young adults’ experiences of existential concerns from the perspective of young women and young men; nine women (study II) and eight men (study III) participated. All interviews were individual lifeworld interviews. Study IV describes young adults’ experiences of enabling wellbeing in a life with existential concerns. Seventeen adults (same participants as study II and III) participated and all interviews were individual lifeworld interviews. Studies II, III, and IV were analysed by phenomenological analysis. 

Main results: The results show that the lives of young adults with existential concerns are significantly affected by these concerns. Existential concerns awaken vulnerability, characterized by feeling lost in life and living near a bottomless darkness in which life may seem unbearable. In such a vulnerable existence, there is a desire to find a place to rest, thereby enabling wellbeing. For young adults, vulnerability means having the courage to expose their life situation and innermost thoughts. In encounters with others, there is a risk of being condemned, neglected, identified as weak, or rejected. In a caring relationship between young adults and healthcare professionals, both young adults and healthcare professionals’ vulnerability to life’s fragility evokes. Courage means daring to expose one’s vulnerability and sharing one’s life story. Courage also means that healthcare professionals dare to remain in the caring relationship and listen to the young adult’s life story, no matter how dire or dark it seems. In order for the life story to stand out, a mutual invitation between young adults and healthcare professionals is required. The results show that the prerequisites for a caring relationship involve mutual vulnerability, courage, and invitation to reflect on life’s challenges. In a genuinely caring relationship, through existential confirmation, entails finding a place to rest that enables wellbeing when experiencing existential concerns as a young adult. 

Conclusion: The thesis contributes knowledge relating to how young adults experience life with existential concerns and, in turn, how wellbeing is enabled through the experiences of young adults and healthcare professionals. Existential concern is a complex phenomenon, involving vulnerability, courage, and the invitation to enable wellbeing. From a lifeworld theoretical perspective, we see an openness to existential dimensions in young adults’ life stories, providing guidance to caregivers in enabling young adults to find a place where they can be vulnerable and have an opportunity to recover.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Borås: Högskolan i Borås, 2020
Series
Skrifter från Högskolan i Borås, ISSN 0280-381X ; 115
Keywords
Young adults, healthcare professionals, existential concerns, reflective lifeworld research, caring sciences, caring relationship, phenomenology
National Category
Nursing
Research subject
The Human Perspective in Care
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-24028 (URN)978-91-89271-07-4 (ISBN)978-91-89271-08-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2021-01-15, M404, Sandgärdet, Borås, 09:30
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Disputationen sänds via videolänk, förinformation se kalendariet på hb.se/forskning.

Available from: 2020-12-18 Created: 2020-11-12 Last updated: 2022-08-15Bibliographically approved

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Lundvall, MariaLindberg, ElisabethCarlsson, GunillaPalmér, Lina

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