There is widespread and increasing political interest in devising plans to support people who have or have had cancer to recover and recommence 'normal' lives. Educating cancer patients for this purpose is a central element in cancer rehabilitation in both Europe and the United States. One of the challenges in intervention research pertaining to rehabilitation is how to measure and explain the effects of a particular rehabilitation program. The social processes of particular programs are often a 'closed box' and not taken into consideration methodologically or analytically. In this article, we unpack and explicate the 'closed box' of a particular cancer rehabilitation program in Denmark by drawing on approaches from the study of ritual. By analyzing rehabilitation as a ritual and as ritualization, we identify and conceptualize some of the transformative activities involved in cancer rehabilitation. We highlight the significance of the ritual site, its aesthetics, its exaggerations, and the social and temporal organization of the program.
Medical Anthropology, 2013, Vol 32, Issue 3, p. 266-85