Understanding lived experiences through multiple perspectives: Caregiving as an exemplar

Carol Haywood*, Mary C. Lawlor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Experiences are multidimensional, impactful, and often rooted in occupations, where meaning is felt, and people engage with others and learn about themselves and the world. Experiences are complex phenomena influenced by a multitude of factors, and they have a strong connection to health and well-being. Studies of lived experiences have been central to the development of occupational science. Capturing the essence of experiences can be challenging, but integrating data from multiple perspectives in research designs is a valuable strategy to address challenges to understanding experiences, including their interpersonal, interdependent, and intersubjective natures. This is especially critical for understanding circumstances in which two or more people share experiences or coordinate action together, such as in cases of caregiving. In this paper, we outline the strength and utility of methodological approaches that integrate multiple perspectives in order to understand experiences as they are situated beyond the individual. We draw on original data from a narrative and phenomenological study of lived experiences among adolescents and young adults with spinal cord injuries and their caregivers as an exemplar for discussion. Relative contributions to occupational science and limitations of a multi-perspective approach are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-139
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Occupational Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Caregivers
  • Methods
  • Occupational science
  • Personal narratives
  • Qualitative research
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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