Camilla Rindstedt.
The Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation.
Year: 2012.

Aims and Background

A point of departure of this planned work is to investigate how children use ‘imaginal coping’ (Clark 2003) when handling chronic illness. Imaginal coping, as a theoretical construct, is here defined as the use of imagination to come to grips with the hardships of illness (Clark 2003). The aim is also to find out how various categories of medical staff (doctors, nurses, play therapists, teachers and hospital clowns) as well as parents support the child in this work. What patterns of interactions are developed when it comes to coping between children and various adults in multiparty interactions within the health care setting?


The data collection involves a fieldwork carried out with a video ethnographic method (Ochs et al 2006), a novel method which makes it possible to reanalyze and work with data in great detail. Five children have been followed during more than a year while at an oncology unit. The bulk of the data consists of 93 hours of video recorded interactions between children-parents-staff, fieldnotes and interviews.

The choice of methods here also entails a choice of theoretical approaches: a combination of linguistic anthropology (Duranti 1997) and conversational analytic research (Maynard 2003). Language is seen as social action and analyses of everyday interaction constitute central element in the theoretical analyses.


Funding has been received for one year: in order to further transcribe and analyze the data, finish writing a contracted book and continue to write articles for peer-reviewed journals. A handbook chapter has been published, an article has been accepted for publication and two articles are presently under review.

Significance for childhood cancer

The benefits of the study have to do with how to meet future patients within the health care setting. An increased understanding may improve daily routines and practices.