Diagnosis: a liminal state for women living with lupus

Health Care Women Int. 2009 May;30(5):390-407. doi: 10.1080/07399330902785158.


Women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) often experience a protracted diagnostic period in which their symptoms are treated as medically unexplained. Although they know they are ill, their symptoms have not been validated as indicative of disease by a health care professional. Consequently, the diagnostic period can be viewed as liminal, the middle stage in the rites of passage and what Turner (1969/1997) has labeled "betwixt and between." Drawing on the analysis of narratives solicited from 23 women recruited from online lupus support groups, I explore the gendered nature of diagnosis for women with lupus using van Gennep's (1960) rites of passage as a conceptual framework.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Anecdotes as Topic
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • United States
  • Women's Health*
  • Young Adult