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Table 1 The illness work framework

From: Ontological security and connectivity provided by pets: a study in the self-management of the everyday lives of people diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition

Types of work


Practical work

Practical Illness work

Work related to health management.



Crisis prevention and management: ‘work that gets things back “on track” in the face of the unexpected, and modifies action to accommodate unanticipated contingencies’ (potential support).

Translation, mediation and embodiment

The translation of abstract knowledge into practical knowledge and then into practice. The difference between knowing and doing. Includes illness-specific work related to diet, exercise and medication (regimen work). Symptom management and diagnostic-related work related to assessment of health status.

Coordination work

Involves combining different entities such as tasks, types of work and people, making them work together within a specific context. Also involves negotiations regarding the ways in which work is done, who does what, when, how and why. The organisation of tasks that need to be done.

Advocacy work

The negotiation of contributions and the work done by others on one’s behalf.

Practical everyday work

Housekeeping and repairing; occupational work; child rearing; sentimental work; eating. Includes generic support related to diet and exercise (general shopping and unspecific personal care).


Everyday work–diet

Work related to non-specific, diet-related support (shopping, cooking, going for a meal).


Everyday work–exercise

Work related to non-specific, exercise-related support (walking, swimming, going to the gym).

Emotional work

Illness specific emotional work

Work related to comforting when worried or anxious about health-related issues.

Everyday emotional work

Work related to comforting when worried or anxious about everyday issues. Well-being and companionship.

Biographical work

Biographical work

Work related to the actions taken to retain control over the life course and to give life meaning again. This includes the reassessment of personal expectations, capabilities, future plans, identity, relationships and strong emotional bonds. Includes illness-related and non-illness related biographical events.

  1. Drawn from the work of Corbin and Strauss [31]