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Social patterning of recovery from physical illness: patients' experiences of heart attack and leukaemia

Earthy, SM, Sleney, J and Thomas, H Social patterning of recovery from physical illness: patients' experiences of heart attack and leukaemia In: European Society for Health and Medical Sociology (ESHMS) Congress, 2014-08-28 - 2014-08-30, Helsinki, Finland.

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INTRODUCTION Comparatively little attention has been paid to the social dimensions and social patterning of recovery from major physical illness. Bourdieu’s concept of social capital, residing in the social networks of individuals, has retained value (Carpiano 2006) despite questions over the usefulness of measures of community level social capital in explaining health inequalities (Dahl and Malmberg-Heimonen 2010). METHOD This paper presents a secondary analysis of qualitative interview data collected by the Health Experiences Research Group, University of Oxford. Forty-four adults who had experienced a heart attack and 39 patients who had been diagnosed with leukaemia were interviewed about their experiences. A thematic analytical approach was employed. RESULTS Support provided by partners differed from that of other family members or friends. Personal cultural capital and bridging forms of social capital, located in patients’ occupational background and social networks, were evident in their accounts of interactions with health professionals. Loss of income through illness was mitigated by both personal and family economic resources and proximity to retirement. Two key differences between the datasets were noted: emotional support and bridging social capital conferred by a heart attack rehabilitation programme; and differences in experiences of acute versus chronic forms of leukaemia. CONCLUSIONS Experiences of recovery from heart attack and leukaemia appear socially patterned in respect of partnership status and dimensions of cultural and social capital. This study demonstrates the utility of the concept of individual social capital, in both bonding and bridging forms, for exploring social patterning in experiences of illness and recovery.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Sleney, J
Thomas, H
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 16 May 2017 15:31
Last Modified : 23 Jan 2020 14:59

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