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In sickness and in health: experience of caring for a spouse with MS

Background People are not expected to die from multiple sclerosis although, as the condition progresses over a period of time, some people become increasingly disabled and will require assistance with all activities of daily living. Their partners invariably carry out these tasks. Objective To gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of the partner living with and caring for a spouse disabled by multiple sclerosis. Methodology In a qualitative study, eight partners who live and care for a person with multiple sclerosis were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire to explore their experience of their role. Results The interview transcripts were analyzed using a thematic framework approach. Codes, themes and five categories were identified, which were worry, planning, frustrations, commitment to marriage and coping strategies. These categories were examined using quotes from the transcripts as evidence. Conclusion This qualitative study identified that these couples had been married for at least 20 years before disability of the spouse significantly affected their lifestyle. Partners felt obliged to continue in their caring role due to a sense of duty and commitment of marriage. Partners felt a sense of loss as they prioritized the health and needs of their spouse above their own and, finally, partners lost their identity as husband/wife as they were called ‘the carer’. Partners felt out of control due to the unpredictable and progressive nature of MS and because it consumed their life 24 hours every day. Partners often felt guilty at not being satisfied with their life and wanting some independence

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Additional Titles
British Journal of Nursing

Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
ISBN/ISSN
0966-0461
Resource Database
Hmic
Publication Year
2010
Issue Number
4
Volume Number
19
Language
English