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Patient Educ Couns. 2007 Nov;68(3):279-86. Epub 2007 Aug 17.

Disrupted social connectedness among Dominican women with chronic filarial lymphedema.

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  • 1National Center for Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, MS-C14, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.



The objectives of this paper were to identify specific factors associated with intact or disrupted social connectedness among Dominican women with chronic filarial lymphedema and better understand the impact of disrupted connectedness on their lives.


Data were collected through 28 individual interviews and 3 focus group discussions of 28 women from filariasis-endemic areas of the Dominican Republic presenting with lymphedema of one or both legs.


The confluence of chronic and acute stressors with severity of lymphedema lead women to rely on others for social support. Women described complications of aging, disability, reduced social networks, and inability to adhere to cultural scripts as contributing to disrupted social connectedness.


Social disconnectedness appears to exacerbate the negative consequences of living with lymphedema among women. Social connectedness and cultural scripts often define a social role for women that transcend physical deformity and disability, while disrupted social connectedness contributes to social isolation, depressive symptoms, and poor health outcomes.


Further behavioral research into the contribution of intact social connectedness to resiliency and coping is warranted in order to develop effective interventions for women. Identifying women with disrupted social connectedness and engaging them in behavioral interventions to enhance natural social networks and create new or enhanced social support opportunities may mitigate the negative effects of social disconnectedness and improve quality of life.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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