Objective: To investigate the meanings that people with advanced cancer ascribe to engaging in creative activity in palliative occupational therapy.
Methods: Sixteen interviews were conducted with eight participants over a period of 8–12 months. Participants were asked to narrate about their engagement in creative activities at a palliative intervention program. Transcribed interviews were analyzed with a phenomenological method.
Results: Engagement in creative activities was found to ease life in proximity to death for persons with advanced cancer and limited survival time. For the participants, creativity meant that some of the consequences of incurable cancer could be confronted and alternative potentials could be explored and acknowledged. This occurred in an ongoing process of creating alternative ways to deal with life.
Significance of results: Creative activity is a means for participants to develop ways to adapt and cope with declining physical abilities and existential concerns through working with their hands and bodies. This complements the often negative focus in palliative phases of cancer with an understanding of how enriching aspects of life can be maintained. The results highlight how people in palliative care experience their engagement in creative activity in the form of crafts, and how such engagements may be a significant tool for finding alternative ways to handle challenges in ongoing life.