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Title: Accounting for ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and early stroke : a discourse analysis of identity and coping
Author: Guise, Jennifer Marjory Ferguson
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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Current theory largely uses medical, psychiatric or cognitive models to describe the effects of chronic illness. This study adopts a social constructionist perspective, a fundamental tenet of which is that meanings are made in interaction. Thus, chronic illness, identity and coping are not static, measurable phenomena. Rather, they are treated as something that people do in talk (Antaki & Widdicombe, 1998). Discourse analysis, with its focus on the rhetorical function of language, provides the means with which to examine this. There is very little published research using this perspective or this methodology to research either ME/CFS or stroke. Participants were recruited via self-help groups. 49 people with ME and 10 stroke sufferers were interviewed via email. Four face-to-face focus groups were also held, comprising a further 7 ME sufferers, and 12 people who had a stroke (with 5 of their carers). Analysis focused on how sufferers constructed their condition, the effects it had on identity, and the ways in which they coped. Both conditions were constructed as serious, and poorly understood. However, only ME sufferers constructed their illness as specifically not psychological or psychiatric. People in both groups oriented to the problematic nature of sufferers’ identity that arose from their accountability for becoming ill, and for their inactivity. ME and stroke sufferers oriented to issues of accountability for the ways in which they coped. People with ME emphasised their previously high levels of activity, and their mental health, and thus oriented to specific aspects of their construction of this condition. There was, therefore, some commonality of experience among the two groups, in that their illness was associated with stigma. In addition, constructions of identity and coping drew on particular features of participants’ own illness constructions. The study ends with a discussion of practical implications for health professionals, sufferers, carers and researchers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available