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Creature comforts: personal communities, pets and the work of managing a long-term condition

Creature comforts: personal communities, pets and the work of managing a long-term condition
Creature comforts: personal communities, pets and the work of managing a long-term condition
Objectives: to explore in the context of peoples’ personal social networks, the contribution that pets make to ‘the work’ associated with the management of long-term conditions.

Method: mixed methods survey with nested parallel qualitative study; 300 participants were drawn from diabetes and chronic heart disease registers of General Practices across Greater Manchester in the North West of England. Notions of ‘work’ were used to describe the illness and everyday activities associated with chronic illness.

Results: nineteen percent of participants identified at least one pet within their network. Pets contributed mostly to managing emotions (emotional work), to enhancing a sense of self identity (biographical work) and to a lesser extent practical tasks (everyday work). There were indicators that pets mediated relationships for people living with a long-term condition through very weak ties with others in domestic and community settings.

Conclusion: the findings suggest that pets have unique qualities and are not simply substitutes for human relationships in long-term condition management. The study has potential implications for furthering a social contextual analysis of chronic illness, the understanding of relationships, and the meaning and the role of companion animals in long-term condition management
pets, social networks, long-term conditions, self-management, illness work, mixed methods
1742-3953
87-102
Brooks, H. L.
3b125bbf-b6ca-4769-8578-18d0dfa1e819
Rogers, Anne
105eeebc-1899-4850-950e-385a51738eb7
Kapadia, D.
cd4d1b85-7d53-4bce-b5b8-a9b1355fb437
Pilgrim, J.
7a2f8fdb-7f39-4729-ac7b-1286fa2701e2
Reeves, D.
fd91567d-2b32-4ae1-86ba-82a01aa5121d
Vassilev, I.
3ca8305d-a05b-430a-b170-29834722b305
Brooks, H. L.
3b125bbf-b6ca-4769-8578-18d0dfa1e819
Rogers, Anne
105eeebc-1899-4850-950e-385a51738eb7
Kapadia, D.
cd4d1b85-7d53-4bce-b5b8-a9b1355fb437
Pilgrim, J.
7a2f8fdb-7f39-4729-ac7b-1286fa2701e2
Reeves, D.
fd91567d-2b32-4ae1-86ba-82a01aa5121d
Vassilev, I.
3ca8305d-a05b-430a-b170-29834722b305

Brooks, H. L., Rogers, Anne, Kapadia, D., Pilgrim, J., Reeves, D. and Vassilev, I. (2013) Creature comforts: personal communities, pets and the work of managing a long-term condition. Chronic Illness, 9 (2), 87-102. (doi:10.1177/1742395312452620). (PMID:22777565)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Objectives: to explore in the context of peoples’ personal social networks, the contribution that pets make to ‘the work’ associated with the management of long-term conditions.

Method: mixed methods survey with nested parallel qualitative study; 300 participants were drawn from diabetes and chronic heart disease registers of General Practices across Greater Manchester in the North West of England. Notions of ‘work’ were used to describe the illness and everyday activities associated with chronic illness.

Results: nineteen percent of participants identified at least one pet within their network. Pets contributed mostly to managing emotions (emotional work), to enhancing a sense of self identity (biographical work) and to a lesser extent practical tasks (everyday work). There were indicators that pets mediated relationships for people living with a long-term condition through very weak ties with others in domestic and community settings.

Conclusion: the findings suggest that pets have unique qualities and are not simply substitutes for human relationships in long-term condition management. The study has potential implications for furthering a social contextual analysis of chronic illness, the understanding of relationships, and the meaning and the role of companion animals in long-term condition management

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 9 July 2012
Published date: July 2013
Keywords: pets, social networks, long-term conditions, self-management, illness work, mixed methods
Organisations: Faculty of Health Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 346115
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/346115
ISSN: 1742-3953
PURE UUID: d9a95a38-2434-47fc-8382-e0e4cb5bd1a7

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Date deposited: 11 Dec 2012 16:56
Last modified: 16 Jul 2019 21:48

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Contributors

Author: H. L. Brooks
Author: Anne Rogers
Author: D. Kapadia
Author: J. Pilgrim
Author: D. Reeves
Author: I. Vassilev

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