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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

An Ethical and Socio-cultural Exploration of Meaning-making and its Association to Chronic Illness: Cognitive and Narrative Approaches

by Pagona Roussi, PhD & Evrinomi Avdi, PhD 4 CE Credits

This course reviews the concept of “meaning-making” in the context of chronic illness from two different perspectives: the cognitive and the narrative approach. First, a discussion of meaning and chronic illness from the cognitive perspective is provided including an examination of how meaning-making has been conceptualized, a presentation of descriptive findings on the forms meaning-making takes when coping with a chronic illness, a review of the sociodemographic and medical correlates of meaning-making in the context of a chronic illness, and a summary of the empirical findings regarding the possible association between meaning-making and adaptation to disease. Second, the narrative therapeutic approach will be outlined. Specifically, issues relating to the temporal dimension in illness narratives, the biographical disruption and identity reconstruction associated with a chronic illness, the surrounding ethics and moral dimension of the illness experience, and finally the role of social context on illness narratives will be presented. Lastly, the potential for distinct, and/or collaborative, ethical use of these two techniques in the clinical setting is discussed.


Continuing education for this online course is offered through the following approvals:


  • HealthForum is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. HealthForum maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • HealthForum (ACE Provider #1156) is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program. HealthForum maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: (6/20/2017 to 6/20/2020). Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 4 Social and Cultural Competence continuing education clock hours.
  • HealthForumOnline, LLC, SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0355
  • HealthForum has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6216.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. HealthForum is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Overview
  • What is Meaning-making?
  • Cognitive Approaches
  • Meaning-making: Process or Outcome
  • Positive vs. Negative Meaning-making: Empirical Evidence
  • Underlying Mechanisms of Meaning-making
  • Meaning-making and Adaptation to Disease
  • Narrative Approaches
  • Temporality
  • Biographical Disruption and Identity Reconstruction
  • Morality
  • Social Context
  • Summary
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Summarize prominent psychosocial theories that underlie the concept of “meaning-making” in the context of chronic illness from two therapeutic perspectives: cognitive and narrative approaches.
  • Identify at least 6 possible patient-based factors that influence meaning-making and adaptation to disease, including self-perception, values, goals, self-efficacy, interpersonal relationships, and one’s view of the world.
  • Distinguish 4 primary patient-based themes within narrative approaches including temporality, biographical disruption and identity reconstruction,  morality, and social contextualization.
  • Apply cognitive-affective and narrative approaches to meaning-making in the ethical care of patients coping with chronic illness, alone and in tandem, with a greater clinical sensitivity to socio-cultural differences in meaning-making in this context.