Narrative-based research on the experience of illness is reviewed to consider the role of meaning construction in illness. Studies drawn from both sociology and psychology are presented as distinct perspectives sharing some common characteristics. The impact of meaning on psychological responses to illness and subsequent behavior, coping strategies, and the ongoing development of self is examined. Methodological differences are noted and discussed. The need for more complexity in our conceptualization of the function of meaning in illness, especially in cross-cultural distinctions, is identified. Implications for clinical application in the design and delivery of sensitive and effective psychotherapeutic interventions are also addressed.
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