Katherine M. Russell, Psy.D., is a 2017 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Gargi Roysircar, Ed.D., Committee Chair
  • Victor Pantesco, Ed.D., Committee Member
  • Thomas Stearns, Ph.D., Committee Member


surgery, hysterectomy, metaphor, narrative, voice, locus of control, anxiety

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The experience of surgery may lead patients to form narratives that are dominated by medical terminology (Lapum, Angus, Peter, & Watt-Watson, 2010) rather than their own voice, or “capacity to speak on one’s own behalf, in terms that are not given by others” (Monk, Winslade, Crocket, & Epston, 1997, p. 306). In turn, patients may struggle to feel personally in control of their healing process. The subjective quality of metaphors can allow patients to articulate their surgery experience in a voice unique to them; facilitating patients’ sense of agency in the process of healing. In particular, women who have undergone a hysterectomy may find metaphorical narrative accounts of their surgeries helpful in establishing a voice. An online experimental design was used with women who had had hysterectomies to examine the connection between metaphor, patient voice, internal locus of control, and anxiety. Demographic information and anxiety scores were collected before participants were exposed to one of two experimental conditions: a medical narrative or a metaphorical narrative. After participants read one of these narratives, they answered questions related to patient voice, the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control (MHLC) Form C, and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) Form Y-1. To analyze data, t-tests and two ANCOVAs were performed. It was found that those participants assigned to the medical narrative condition self-reported higher levels of voice. In addition, there was a trend in the data suggesting that those assigned to the metaphorical condition reported lower levels of Doctors Health Locus of Control (HLC). The implications of these findings are discussed, with specific regard to how language may have an impact on individuals’ sense of being heard, understood, and able to express their surgical experience. Limitations of the study’s methodology and recommendation for future research are addressed.


Katherine M. Russell

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0003-3151-8470