Co-constructed dyadic illness experience in the discourse of couples living with severe uncontrolled asthma

  • J. Varkonyi-Sepp
  • A. Cross
  • P. Howarth


Background: The research aims to explore dyadic constructed illness experiences and identities in couples living with severe uncontrolled asthma (SUA) Methods: Following NHS ethical approval, three couples, where one partner was being treated for SUA, were recruited from an asthma clinic. Each couple took part in a dyadic semi-structured, face-to-face interview. Mean duration since disease onset was 34 years (range 24-49). Patients' mean age was 66 years (range 59-73). Data were analysed using discourse analysis. Expected results: Preliminary results show that couples' dyadically constructed identities are fluid identities that adapt to variable illness severity over the disease course. Couples' dyadically constructed 'coping scripts' emerged from the non-asthmatic partner's expectations for coping strategies. Couples articulated unresolved emotional burden from old illness-related memories around acceptance of condition or traumatic encounters with health services. They highlighted lack of professional psychological support in coping with the illness. Participants perceived unique relationship and rapport with specific physicians. Despite physical suffering and life constrains, couples reported a good quality of life that they actively constructed. Current stage of work: A further 7-10 couples are being recruited to explore the preliminary findings further. Discussion: Exploring co-constructed illness experiences of SUA with dyadic approach provides valuable data on the significant other's influences and the impact of illness on the couple as a unit. Joint dyadic interviewing is useful in exploring the co-construction of illness experience in discourse, potentially applicable to areas of chronic disease management and health behaviour change.
Poster presentations