‘No place like home?’ A qualitative study of the experience of sense of place among cancer patients near the end of life

Adi Ivzori Erel, Miri Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Only a few studies have examined the end-of-life experience in the context of the place of living and receiving care. Sense of place consists of emotional bonds, values, meaning, and symbols attached to a place. This study aimed to explore the experience of a sense of place among individuals at the end-of-life receiving care at home via home-hospice or in a hospital. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 cancer patients aged 31–77 near the end-of-life (prognosis of 6 months or less left to live). Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Three main themes emerged: (a) ‘This is me stuck inside my body’—the sick body and the body as a place, focused on the experience of estrangement with and disappointment from the body; (b) ‘In fantasy, everyone wants to be at home and die at home, but life isn't a fantasy’—the sense of home versus the hospital, focused on the sense of place towards home and hospital; and (c) ‘I don't want to meet anyone or to be anywhere’—a lack of sense of place, focused on detachment from physical and social environments and loss of sense of place. The findings demonstrate the complexity of relations with the body as the centre of experience and with the care setting. In conclusion, professional awareness of experiences of sense of place is most relevant to psychosocial interventions with patients near the end-of-life and their families. Interventions focused on improving patients' sense of place should be developed to increase their peace and quality of life and death. Educating families about the various experiences related to the sense of place may foster better understanding and empathy for the person at the end-of-life and allow a more positive experience of separation and bereavement after death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1194-e1201
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • cancer
  • end-of-life
  • qualitative method
  • sense of place

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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