Living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neurone disease (ALS/MND): decision-making about 'ongoing change and adaptation'

Susan J King, Maxine M Duke, Barrie A O'Connor
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2009, 18 (5): 745-54

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To present a model that explicates the dimensions of change and adaptation as revealed by people who are diagnosed and live with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neurone disease.

BACKGROUND: Most research about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neurone disease is medically focused on cause and cure for the illness. Although psychological studies have sought to understand the illness experience through questionnaires, little is known about the experience of living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neurone disease as described by people with the disease.

DESIGN: A grounded theory method of simultaneous data collection and constant comparative analysis was chosen for the conduct of this study.

METHODS: Data collection involved in-depth interviews, electronic correspondence, field notes, as well as stories, prose, songs and photographs important to participants. QSR NVivo 2 software was used to manage the data and modelling used to illustrate concepts.

FINDINGS: Participants used a cyclic, decision-making pattern about 'ongoing change and adaptation' as they lived with the disease. This pattern formed the basis of the model that is presented in this paper.

CONCLUSION: The lives of people living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neurone disease revolve around the need to make decisions about how to live with the disease progression and their deteriorating abilities. Life decisions were negotiated by participants to maintain a sense of self and well-being in the face of change.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: The 'ongoing change and adaptation' model is a framework that can guide practitioners to understand the decision-making processes of people living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neurone disease. Such understanding will enhance caring and promote models of care that are person-centred. The model may also have relevance for people with other life limiting diseases and their care.


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