Academic journal article Journal of Social and Psychological Sciences

Coping Measures of Patients with Chronic Illness in a Nigerian Tertiary Health Institution

Academic journal article Journal of Social and Psychological Sciences

Coping Measures of Patients with Chronic Illness in a Nigerian Tertiary Health Institution

Article excerpt

Introduction

In Nigeria, chronic illness may be responsible for 24 percent of all deaths in the year 2005 and the situation may become worse by 2015(WHO, 2005). Some of the common chronic illness such as diabetics, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetics are preventable through healthy diet, regular physical activity and avoidance of some harmful habits such as tobacco products. The political economy of the Nigerian nation as reflected in the high prevalence of poverty and illiteracy may have further complicated the process of addressing chronic illness. Despite, the structural limitations on patients with chronic illness, they still posses the ability to re-interpret their illness situation (Taylor, 1983; Moses, Ngugi, Bradley, et al, 1994; McKinlay, 1975; Meertens, Scheepers, & Tax, 2003). Illness behaviour creates a useful way of understanding and describing the many psychosocial influences that affect how people monitor their bodies, define and interpret their symptoms, come to view themselves as sick and disabled, take remedial action, and use lay and professional sources of help (Mechanic, 1978).

The meanings given by patients to a negative life event has effect on the symptoms and illness behaviour and help to order experience in several ways (Taylor, 1983; Moses, Ngugi, Bradley, et al, 1994). Studies have revealed that the meanings associated with illness tend to vary by group membership (e.g. McKinlay, 1975; Meertens, Scheepers, & Tax, 2003). The interpretation of symptoms and the meaning assigned to them may have a profound influence on coping measures. Like all the other aspects of illness behaviour, coping with chronic illness or any other illness is determined by many factors and varies from person to person (Turner & Lloyd, 1999; Turner, Wheaton, & Lloyd, 1995; Wheaton, 1994). Coping responses may be more or less adaptive and more or less consciously motivated. Although some people may deny their symptoms (Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989), others may exaggerate them. The abnormal functioning that occurs in chronic illness leads inevitably to compensatory behaviour that may have positive or negative effects on subsequent symptoms and functional levels. Illness behaviour and suffering can exist in the absence of a diagnosable disease.

Effective treatment of patients with chronic disease requires that health care professionals view illness broadly and not only from the biomedical disease model. Some proportion of people with chronic pain use alternative care systems either in lieu of or as adjuncts to the traditional medical care system. Some alternative practices have developed as a reaction to what a number of people perceive to be shortcomings in traditional medical care (Weiss & Lonnquist, 2006). The holistic health care and self-care movements are examples of such alternative approaches, and both of them receive considerable support from some physicians for much of their work and for their basic philosophies (Inglis & West, 1983). More recent research suggests that religious and folk practices may be effective insofar as they take into account essential psychosocial factors, such as patients' explanatory models of illness, that are often neglected by conventional medicine (Kleinman & Sung, 1979). In addition, these modes may help alter the meaning of illness in such a way as to allow a different and healthier response (Csordas, 1983; Bourguignon, 1976; Frank, 1973).

The above explanations and some of the literature have confirmed the relevance of understudying and incorporating patients' views in consulting and treatment. To a large extent, studies focusing especially on patients' perception of chronic illness and their coping measures are scarce in the Nigerian context. Hence, this study examines patients' views on selected chronic illness as well their coping measures among selected adult patients with selected chronic illness in a Nigerian tertiary hospital. …

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