Title

How Do Adults With Multiple Sclerosis Experience Life Balance?

Presenter Information

Brenda Erickson
Kathleen Matuska

Start Time

7-10-2006 1:00 PM

End Time

7-10-2006 2:40 PM

Abstract

Modern, western, lifestyles are busy and pressed for time and people are trying to manage their lives in ways that meet their needs and fulfill their roles with a minimal amount of stress. For most people in modern society, finding the optimal balanced life is challenging at best and even more so if living with a chronic disease. This qualitative research explored the lived experience of people who have multiple sclerosis to understand how they perceive their lifestyle balance through their experiences of everyday life. Two focus groups were conducted with a total of 12 people with MS> The data was analyzed using a triangulation method and member checks. The common themes that emerged from the focus group discussion and the coding process were: challenges related to finding lifestyle balance; adaptations made to achieve lifestyle balance; and the emotional experience of trying to maintain lifestyle balance. Within these categories, participants identified problems managing their time, their health, their energy, and their relationships. They adapted by modifying their daily activities and the environment, adjusting standards, and changing expectations. Finally, they expressed an altered identity as a result of the disease and most of the participants described the negative emotional toll it took on their lives and how they are trying to cope. The results support a model of lifestyle balance described by Christiansen and Matuska who defined lifestyle balance as “a satisfying pattern of daily activities that is healthful, meaningful, and sustainable to an individual within the context of his or her current life circumstances (2005, p.6). MS symptoms are often triggered or exacerbated by stress yet the participants in the study described the everyday ways that MS affected their ability to live balanced lives, this increasing their stress. Living successfully with a chronic disease such as MS requires more than medical management of symptoms, it requires life management as well, where people find ways to flourish, to meet their needs, and to fulfill their meaningful roles, resulting in reduced stress and better health outcomes.

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Oct 7th, 1:00 PM Oct 7th, 2:40 PM

How Do Adults With Multiple Sclerosis Experience Life Balance?

Modern, western, lifestyles are busy and pressed for time and people are trying to manage their lives in ways that meet their needs and fulfill their roles with a minimal amount of stress. For most people in modern society, finding the optimal balanced life is challenging at best and even more so if living with a chronic disease. This qualitative research explored the lived experience of people who have multiple sclerosis to understand how they perceive their lifestyle balance through their experiences of everyday life. Two focus groups were conducted with a total of 12 people with MS> The data was analyzed using a triangulation method and member checks. The common themes that emerged from the focus group discussion and the coding process were: challenges related to finding lifestyle balance; adaptations made to achieve lifestyle balance; and the emotional experience of trying to maintain lifestyle balance. Within these categories, participants identified problems managing their time, their health, their energy, and their relationships. They adapted by modifying their daily activities and the environment, adjusting standards, and changing expectations. Finally, they expressed an altered identity as a result of the disease and most of the participants described the negative emotional toll it took on their lives and how they are trying to cope. The results support a model of lifestyle balance described by Christiansen and Matuska who defined lifestyle balance as “a satisfying pattern of daily activities that is healthful, meaningful, and sustainable to an individual within the context of his or her current life circumstances (2005, p.6). MS symptoms are often triggered or exacerbated by stress yet the participants in the study described the everyday ways that MS affected their ability to live balanced lives, this increasing their stress. Living successfully with a chronic disease such as MS requires more than medical management of symptoms, it requires life management as well, where people find ways to flourish, to meet their needs, and to fulfill their meaningful roles, resulting in reduced stress and better health outcomes.