Inner posture as aspect of global meaning in healthcare: a conceptual analysis

Elsbeth Littooij, Guy A.M. Widdershoven, Carlo J.W. Leget, Joost Dekker

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Based on our empirical research on global meaning in people with spinal cord injury and people with stroke, we formulated ‘inner posture’ as a concept in rehabilitation. Inner posture, as we concluded from our empirical data, refers to the way in which people bear what cannot be changed. It helps them to live with their injury. Considering that much has already been written about meaning from a variety of disciplines, the question arises whether the concept of inner posture adds something new to the existing literature, or is just another name for a phenomenon that has already been described before in different terms. In this paper, we aim to investigate this and to clarify our conceptualization, by comparing the concept of inner posture with influential concepts in healthcare literature which seem to be more or less related. In the work of Puchalski regarding spirituality, Pargament regarding religion, Eliott regarding hope and Frankl regarding attitude, we found definitions and descriptions that seemed to come close to the phenomenon we refer to as inner posture. Because these concepts have various theoretical backgrounds, the comparison can help to better understand our concept of inner posture, through a process of dialogue between traditions, following Gadamer’s notion of dialogue as fusion of horizons of understanding. We conclude that inner posture differs from the other concepts in several ways. Some of these differences are more fundamental, other are partial. This suggests that we identified a new perspective on a phenomenon partially described earlier. The comparison also inspired us to slightly adjust our definition and to formulate new research questions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-209
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019


  • Attitude
  • Conceptual analysis
  • Global meaning
  • Healthcare
  • Hope
  • Inner posture
  • Rehabilitation
  • Religion
  • Spirituality

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