Critical moments in long-term condition management: a longitudinal qualitative social network study

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Objectives: Recent literature has demonstrated the nature and importance of social networks. This study aimed to understand how support needs of people with long-term conditions change over time and how this influences their ability to self-manage.
Methods: A longitudinal qualitative design was used to explore changes in individual’s social networks over a year period. Thirty participants were recruited and completed initial in-depth face-to-face interviews, telephone follow-ups and final face-to-face interviews.
Results: Findings illuminated that changes in health and changes in social networks can influence each other. The social networks implicated in the management of long-term conditions change over time at critical moments and can range between positive and negative reciprocal influences with self-management. Network changes, such as the breaking or reconnecting of ties influenced the context of health management and the degree of engagement with self-management activities.
Discussion: By examining the specific processes of support and resource provision, this study highlights how overtime the variety of relationships and support available implicated in long-term condition management changes. This has implications for the provision of formal support services and the need for a wider range of support to be identified that recognises change in support requirements as self-management strategies evolve.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-134
Number of pages15
JournalChronic illness
Issue number2
Early online date29 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


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