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© 2015 Taylor & Francis. Cancer self-health programmes are a popular form of healthcare in the UK, Australia, and North America. This article explores how they bring together heterogeneous and possibly incommensurable modes of healthcare (including complementary and alternative medicine, self-help, psychotherapy, and systems theory from bioscience) to form programmes of self-health. Through a discourse analysis of four programmes - The Bristol Approach; Health Creation Programme; CANCERactive; and The Healing Journey - this article explore how these programmes promote: (1) Strategies to delineate spheres of living, such as mind, body, and spirit; (2) Relational practices such as holism, connectedness, listening, and healing; (3) Empirically pragmatic attitudes that individualise techniques and practices; and (4) Purposes to life that emphasise a dialogical movement between dichotomised positions. Significantly, through these strategies, techniques and practices cancer self-health programmes are able to promote an ethos that seeks to affect the user, without determining an individual's specific needs or choices.

Original publication




Journal article


Health Sociology Review

Publication Date





48 - 61