Erica Eugeni

Living a chronical illness: A condition between endurance and care

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: hemodialysis, chronicle kidney failure, new medical technology, patient survival, participant observation and medical anthropology

The purpose of the article is to explore the condition of patients that receive hemodialysis treatment within hospitals, highlighting the necessary life adjustments to the effect of chronicle kidney failure. Hemodialysis is a weekly treatment method that requires patients to spend long time in hospitals, as their survival relies on the machine that carries out the kidney functions. First, the articles deals with the chronicle illness condition and the way in which doctors attempt to face this condition induced by the availability of new therapeutic technologies. Then the article looks at how patients live their permanent condition of illness and at how they react to the forced changes in terms of sense of identity, life style and perception of time. A particular focus is given to the importance for patients to become the central members of their health care. Patients are asked by doctors to learn about their treatment and to develop self-discipline in order to avoid any additional physical and psychological disorders. The article is based on the qualitative research conducted among a group of patients and doctors in a hospital in Rome. Eighteen individual interviews and two focus groups with nurses were conducted to understand their experience of illness or work. The research has showed that the patient could be an active agent in the treatment of hemodialysis. Through the acquisition of the biomedical language, the patient would able to negotiate with doctors and nurses the procedures that the therapy requires.

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