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Reading fiction during sick leave, a multidimensional occupation

Journal article
Authors Lena Mårtensson
Christina Andersson
Published in Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Volume 22
Issue 1
Pages 62-71
ISSN 1103-8128
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Pages 62-71
Language en
Keywords qualitative research, occupational dimensions, Bibliotherapy
Subject categories Health Sciences


Background: In bibliotherapy, the therapeutic gains of reading fiction are ascribed to the literature. Viewing reading fiction as an occupation may give other explanations of its therapeutic function. Aim: The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences of reading fiction among women during a period of sick leave. Material and methods: A qualitative approach was applied. Eight women who had been reading fiction during sick leave were interviewed. Results: An overarching theme: Supporting one’s active self, comprised five categories of experiences: a prospect of ordinary life, a place of refuge, a life together with others, a source of power, and as supporting an active life. Conclusion and significance: Based on the categories, reading fiction is seen to comprise intentional, functional, mental, relational, and personal dimensions. A tentative model of supporting one’s active self is proposed, which may be helpful in clarifying the mechanisms of the process of change. The health-related dimensions of reading fiction suggest that reading fiction should be regarded as a significant occupation comparable with other, more highlighted ones. Understood in this way, it is argued that the results add to the knowledge base in occupational therapy focusing on how meaningful occupations connect to occupational life trajectories.

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