Adjustment to appearance changes resulting from meningococcal septicaemia during adolescence: a qualitative study
Wallace, M., Harcourt, D. and Rumsey, N. (2007) Adjustment to appearance changes resulting from meningococcal septicaemia during adolescence: a qualitative study. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 10 (2). pp. 125-132. ISSN 1751-8423
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13638490701217313
Statement of purpose: Meningococcal Septicaemia (ms) is an acute, life-threatening illness characterized by rapid progression and if not treated swiftly can result in death within hours. Those who survive may require skin grafting or amputation of digits and limbs, and be left with severe scarring. Despite the trauma associated with ms, surprisingly little research has been conducted to determine its psychosocial impact. This study therefore explored the impact of ms during adolescence, with an emphasis on adjustment to a permanently altered appearance following a life-threatening illness. Methods used: Eleven in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with adolescents (7 female) and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results: Interviews highlighted the life-altering nature of the experience and the impact this had on finding meaning, life evaluation and adjustment to an altered appearance. Participants spoke at length about differences in themselves, 'pre and post ms', how they assimilated their altered self into life after ms, and the symbolisation attributed to their scars. Issues relating to healthcare provision also arose as a significant theme. Discussion: Participants demonstrated a high degree of resilience in response to their experiences. The means by which this has been achieved, including social comparison are examined in detail and offer a fertile area for further research.