Self-Reflection as a Means for Personal Transformation: An Analysis of Women's Life Stories Living with a Chronic Disease


  • Birgit Prodinger The University of Western Ontario
  • Tanja Alexandra Stamm Medical University of Vienna



secondary analysis, narratives, feminist critiques on health care, standpoint theory, gender, rheumatoid arthritis


The aim of this secondary analysis is to explicate taken-for-granted practices in the health care system in which the life stories of six women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are embedded. A secondary analysis of life stories of six women with RA, which were assigned to a typology named "rheumatoid arthritis as a source for new challenges" (STAMM et al., 2008) in the primary narrative study, was conducted. The theoretical framework applied for the analysis was informed by feminist standpoint theory and feminist philosophy. In the present analysis, each of the women challenged established health care practices and the cognitive authority of medicine at a certain point in their life story reflections. Becoming more conscious about health care practices enabled the women to acknowledge their own knowledge and to make choices about their health. The findings challenge health care providers to engage in critical reflexivity to become conscious about and to transform taken-for-granted practices as embedded in larger systems and to create health care environments that enable dialogue between clients and health care providers. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs100363


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Author Biographies

Birgit Prodinger, The University of Western Ontario

Birgit PRODINGER is PhD Candidate in the field of Occupational Science at The University of Western Ontario, Canada. Her research interests mainly focus on the everyday occupations of people with chronic disabilities within varying social and political contexts across different European welfare states. Her research is informed by feminist standpoint theory, intersectionality and occupational science perspectives; she draws from ethnographic methodologies.

Tanja Alexandra Stamm, Medical University of Vienna

Tanja A. STAMM is Associate Professor at the Department of Internal Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, and the Chair of the MSc Program in Occupational Therapy in Vienna, Austria. Her current research focuses on the interactions of occupational balance, chronic autoimmune diseases, and gender, and how the intersections of these dimensions can be studied within narrative biographic methodologies. Furthermore, she is interested in methodological challenges in conducting cross-national qualitative research studies and has lead several cross-national qualitative research projects.




How to Cite

Prodinger, B., & Stamm, T. A. (2010). Self-Reflection as a Means for Personal Transformation: An Analysis of Women’s Life Stories Living with a Chronic Disease. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 11(3).