The significance and consequences of having painful and disabled joints in older age: Co-existing accounts of normal and disrupted biographies

Caroline Sanders, Jenny Donovan, Paul Dieppe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    This paper examines the meanings of symptoms for people with osteoarthritis. The study comprised 27 in-depth interviews with men and women aged between 51 and 91 years (median age = 76) and draws on previous sociological work about experiences of chronic illness, disability and ageing. In particular, the distinction proposed by Bury between 'meaning as significance' (the significance and connotations associated with illness) and 'meaning as consequence' (problems created for the individual by activity restriction and social disadvantage), provides a useful framework to examine the biographical aspects of symptoms. We found that older respondents portrayed their symptoms as a normal and integral part of their biography, but they also talked about the highly disruptive impact of symptoms on their daily lives. We consider how these co-existing accounts of meaning make sense in the context of cultural connotations of ageing and the implications for meeting health care needs of older people with osteoarthritis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)227-253
    Number of pages26
    JournalSociology of Health and Illness
    Volume24
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002

    Keywords

    • Ageing
    • Biographical disruption
    • Chronic illness
    • Disability
    • Osteoarthritis

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