Discussing responsibility and ways of influencing health

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Outi Jolanki

Abstract

In this discursive study of four group discussions, I examine how the study participants respond to questions about the possibilities of individuals to influence their own health and their responsibility for health, and what is the role of old age in this context. One key finding was that the participants balanced between seeing health as a do-it-yourself matter and on the other hand as a matter of fate or chance. The participants did not question the idea that they could influence their health or assume responsibility for their own health, but they did raise several factors that limit individual influence. Focus groups proved to be an appropriate data collection method for studying morally laden and potentially sensitive issues. It is suggested that the findings of this small-scale study echo broader western discourses on health and old age and contemporary cultural and social developments.

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