Balance, balancing, and health

Wendy L Lipworth, Claire Hooker, Stacy M. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we explore the concept of balance in the context of health. We became interested in balance during a grounded theory study of lay conceptualizations of cancer risk in which participants were concerned with having a good life, which relied heavily on balancing processes. This led us to the qualitative literature about balance in the context of health, which was large and in need of synthesis. We identified 170 relevant studies and used Thomas and Harden's technique of thematic synthesis to identify key balance-related themes and develop these into more abstract analytic categories. We found that balance and balancing were salient to people in three health-related contexts: health maintenance, disease or disability management, and lay or professional caregiving. In each of these contexts, balance or imbalance could be a state or a process. In addition, those using the word balance had either an internally or externally focused orientation to the world around them. Clinicians and public health practitioners might benefit from using these insights in their research and communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-25
Number of pages12
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • communication, medical
  • conceptual analysis
  • health and well-being
  • health promotion
  • qualitative analysis


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