Sharing psychosocial experiences within the online limb loss community: adjusting, embracing and consensus
(2016) Sharing psychosocial experiences within the online limb loss community: adjusting, embracing and consensus, no. 55.
Purpose: The psychosocial consequences of limb loss are wide ranging and have been studied both quantitatively and qualitatively. The study aims to explore the psychosocial experiences of individuals who have lost a limb as discussed within an online support forum environment. Method: Two online discussion forums were selected from the Heather Mills amputee forum website (2005; 2009), and were subject to interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The phenomenological aspect of IPA allows the exploration of personal meanings in detail. Internet data was used due to the advantages this offers over other qualitative methods of data collection such as face-to face interviews. The range of limb loss aetiologies, number of participants and well-thought-out responses the online environment attracts made this an appealing means of data collection. Participants: Extracts included in the results section consist of the contribution of twenty forum members of various limb loss types. Fourteen females, four males, and two undisclosed participants are within this sample Results: Findings shed light on the psychosocial initial and longer-term reactions of limb loss. Three superordinate themes were identified: (1) Life after limb loss: Reactions and prosthesis use, (2) Process of becoming adjusted and (3) Self Identity. Affective reactions, prosthetic function, coping mechanisms, and reconstruction of identity emerged as defining aspects of the limb loss experience. The most novel finding of this research was the judgement and conflict observed within the support group environment. This is unmapped in current literature and so further research and understanding of conflict within the disabled community is required.