The meaning of women's experiences of living with multiple sclerosis

Health Care Women Int. 2008 Apr;29(4):416-30. doi: 10.1080/07399330701876646.


We conducted a qualitative inquiry in order to describe the meaning of women's experiences of living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. The majority of persons living with MS are women. Living with MS has been described as difficult because of the uncertainty of the illness. Ten women with MS were interviewed and the interviews were analyzed with a phenomenological hermeneutic interpretation. In this study, we suggest that the meaning of living with MS for women can be understood as trying to maintain power and living with an unrecognizable body. The bodies of women with MS serve as hindrances in everyday life. Bodily changes evident to others impose feelings of being met in a different way, which can be understood as an expression of a violated dignity. At the same time, the women with MS struggle to protect their dignity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Image
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology*
  • Power, Psychological
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires