Waiting as Performative and Relational: A Narrative Inquiry Study Into the Experiences of Women Who Use Substances

Georgia Dewart, Andrew Estefan, D. Jean Clandinin, Vera Caine

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose: The act of waiting in health care is becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide. Waiting in health care is not a neutral activity; it is filled with expectations marked by cultural and social norms. In this article, we consider the performative nature of waiting by reflecting on the experiences of two participants in a narrative inquiry study. Methods: Drawing on a narrative inquiry study focused on the experiences of three women who disclosed illegal substance use during their pregnancy or early postnatal period, we inquired into two participants' experiences of waiting. The study took place in a large urban center in Western Canada, where the researcher connected with participants who faced numerous challenges due to poverty, stigma, and discrimination. Results: Sharing the narratives of Georgia Dewart, and participants Renate, and Marilynn, we explore the performative act of waiting in their interactions with health care. We consider the political and social implications of the act in order to explore the subtleties and overlooked consequences of waiting. This work encourages the nursing profession to address overlooked aspects of care, such as the act of waiting. Implications for Practice: Our findings draw attention to the normative expectations within participants' experiences of waiting. This work offers methodological considerations for those engaging with Butler's concept of performativity when considering everyday acts. We also challenge care providers to reflect on their experiences working with clients, families, and communities to consider both the relational and performative nature of these interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-117
Number of pages17
JournalResearch and Theory for Nursing Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • care practices
  • maternal health
  • narrative inquiry
  • performativity
  • substance use


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