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Being dialysis-dependant: a qualitative perspective
journal contributionposted on 2003-01-01, 00:00 authored by Kris Martin-McDonald
The technology of renal dialysis offers a way in which life can be sustained, so it is not surprising that the complex, diverse and evolving iatrogenic aspects of dialysis-dependency continue to be researched. However, there has been a tendency to take for granted the human process of making sense of the intrusiveness of dialysis. This study was designed to explore the meanings of dialysis-dependency. The study sample was 10 participants: five female, five male; five on peritoneal dialysis, five on haemodialysis; whose ages ranged from 22 to 68 years. Using a narrative methodology the following methods were used: in-depth interviews, narrative and thematic analysis, fieldwork/notes from five renal units, participant validation, and journal reflections. A thematic analysis revealed the continuum themes of Freedom-Restrictions, Being Normal-Being Visible, Control-Acquiesce, Hope-Despair and Support-Abandon. The themes portrayed as continuums serve to remind health care professionals that those with chronic illnesses strive to make sense of what is happening to them. Variations within each of these themes can occur daily, weekly or monthly. Acceptance may never be reached or may be tentative. Some clients will strive for control and freedom to choose for themselves, others will acquiesce to the overwhelming changes wrought in their lives. Thus, health care professionals might consider placing the personal meanings of those who are dialysis-dependent to the fore, being sensitive to the sufferings wrought by the regime, which treats but does not cure, which sustains life but does not heal.