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  • 2017SmithDClinPsy

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What are the experiences of caring for a loved one with a chronic condition?

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Unpublished
  • Laura Smith
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Publication date2017
Number of pages239
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This thesis comprises of a literature review, a research paper and a critical appraisal of the
thesis. The main focus of the thesis is on family members’ experiences of caring for loved
ones with chronic illnesses. First, a thematic synthesis explored mothers’ experiences of
parenting a child with a chronic illness. Thirteen papers (comprising of twelve studies)
exploring the experiences of 176 mothers to children with seven different chronic illnesses
were included in the synthesis. The thematic synthesis resulted in four themes: the
overarching and pervasive sense of responsibility; the altered maternal relationship: the
tension between idealised and actual motherhood; counting the costs: dismissing one’s own
feelings in order to maintain the ability to care; and becoming the expert. The aim of the
research paper was to explore the experiences of partners of people with chronic pain.
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse ten semi-structured interviews
of eight men and two women. Five themes were identified: the process of acceptance and
adjustment; the challenge of accessing effective support; pain as a personal, independent and
malignant force; loss and growth in the relationship; and controlling ones awareness as a
means of controlling the impact pain. The first two themes are already documented in the
qualitative pain literature and therefore were not discussed in the research paper to allow for
more detailed exploration of the novel findings. Finally, a critical appraisal extended the
discussion of the research paper and literature review by exploring in more detail the
limitations and how future research can further the current findings. Particular attention was
paid to the role of gender in the research findings.