Critical Hospitality Symposium, Critical Hospitality Symposium II: Hospitality IS Society

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Arts-based methods for understanding hospitality among consumers with chronic illnesses
Uditha Ramanayake, Cheryl Cockburn-Wootten, Mary FitzPatrick, Alison McIntosh

Last modified: 2018-07-02


Chronic illnesses are universal human experiences that are often experienced by elderly people aged 65 years and above. They are defined as conditions that last longer than 3 months, such as arthritis, which need ongoing management intervention strategies (Bury, 1982; Von Korff, Gruman, Schaefer, Curry, & Wagner, 1997). In the USA for instance, more than 80% of people aged 65 years and over have at least 1 chronic health condition and 50% of those have multiple conditions to manage (Terui & Hsieh, 2016; Wolff, Starfield, & Anderson, 2002). Scholars face two key challenges when investigating the hospitality consumer experiences of people coping with chronic illness. First, the research could cause participants emotional pain by asking them to reflect, and talk about their experiences of whether they felt valued or excluded in the hospitality environment. Second, researchers’ face university research ethics boards who are mindful of their emotional responsibility and may ‘red-flag’ any topics or data collection methods deemed ‘risky’. In this presentation, we consider the specific methodological and ethical challenges in this field of enquiry for hospitality researchers. Taking into account the drawbacks of verbally-based research methods for understanding the multiplicity of lived experience, arts-based methods have been gaining ground within the social sciences (Blodgett et al., 2013; Rydzik, Pritchard, Morgan, & Sedgley, 2013). Acknowledged in other disciplines for their therapeutic value in knowledge production and translation, arts-based methods are rarely used in hospitality research. The purpose of this paper is to explore the arts-based ‘MeBox’ method, which was created by Gibbons (2010) using visual metaphors to explore the embodied experiences of people living with chronic illnesses. We illustrate how we can use this method as a tool to generate sufficient inclusion of participants’ voices about the hospitality consumer experiences lived by people belonging to this sensitive population.


Arts-based research, elderly, MeBox, ethics


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Wolff, J. L., Starfield, B., & Anderson, G. (2002). Prevalence, expenditures, and complications of multiple chronic conditions in the elderly. Archives of internal medicine, 162(20), 2269-2276.

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