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J Health Psychol. 2007 Mar;12(2):203-14.

An 'overwhelming illness': women's experiences of learning to live with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis.

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Barnsley Primary Care Trust, UK.


The processes through which people learn to live with CFS/ME are poorly understood and have not been rigorously explored within the literature. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight women and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Participants initially described being 'overwhelmed' by CFS/ME. Attempts at seeking help were unsatisfactory and participants described feeling let down and disbelieved. Participants reacted to this by identifying types of 'self-help' and assertively taking more responsibility for their illness and its treatment. Acquiring social support and greater knowledge were key mediating factors in the emergence of control and acceptance. The relevance of the themes to existing research and the implications for clinical practice are considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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