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Understanding the narratives of people who live with medically unexplained illness

Nettleton, S., Watt, I., O’Malley, L. and Duffey, P. (2005) Understanding the narratives of people who live with medically unexplained illness. Patient Education and Counseling, 56 (2). pp. 205-210. ISSN 0738-3991

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This paper reports on a qualitative study, which explores the narratives of patients, who live with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) and who have not secured a diagnostic label. Interviews were undertaken with 18 participants (5 men and 13 women) who attended a neurology outpatients department in the UK. Three features of the patients’ narratives identified are: the ‘chaotic’ structure of their illness narratives; concern that symptoms may be ‘all in the mind’; and their status as ‘medical orphans’. All the patients acknowledge that diagnosis is difficult and accept that a medical explanation will invariably be possible. However, they are more concerned to secure some form of ongoing medical and social support. An understanding of both the structure as well as the content of patients’ narratives of undiagnosed illness may contribute to the development of more effective and sensitive patient centred care.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Social Policy and Social Work (York)
The University of York > Health Sciences (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2009 15:47
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2009 15:47
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2004.02.010
Status: Published
Publisher: Elsevier
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.pec.2004.02.010
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7161

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