The Lived Eating Experiences After Treatment for Head and Neck Cancer: Finding Meaning and Purpose

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date



Health and Sport Science


Using Brennan’s Social Cognitive (SCT) Model of Adjustment as an interpretative framework, this mixed methods case series explored how adults with head and neck cancer (HNC) participate and identify within the dimensions of the eating experience. Qualitative interviews were used to explore the dimensions of the pre- and post-treatment eating experiences in context to changes in taste, smell, appetite and sensory motor changes. Across all four case studies, participants reported taste, smell and sensory motor changes. They described worry about weight loss, decreased ability to engage and find meaning and purpose in the eating experience.

Each described coping strategies which drew upon the social and cultural dimensions of the eating experience which brought meaning and purpose to the post-treatment eating experience. Application of the SCT Model of Adjustment to the eating experience in adults 3-22 months post treatment for HNC revealed cognitive adaptation and coping strategies can result in transition in identity related to the eating experience. This resulted in meaning making and subsequent adaptation to a new way of eating. Exploring identity related to the eating experience can provide insight into how social, cultural, and psychological dimensions of the eating may support transitioning to a new way of eating.




Research was accepted for presentation; however, Professor Dalton was unable to appear on the day of the symposium.

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