Juggling identities of rheumatoid arthritis, motherhood and paid work: a grounded theory study

Helle Feddersen*, Tine Mechlenborg Kristiansen, Pernille Tanggaard Andersen, Kim Hørslev-Petersen, Jette Primdahl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

PURPOSE: To explore how women with rheumatoid arthritis manage their illness, motherhood, and work life.

METHODS: A constructivist, grounded theory approach based on individual interviews and participant observations with 20 women with rheumatoid arthritis who participated in work life and had children living at home or were pregnant. After initial and focused coding Goffman's concepts of social identity were applied.

RESULTS: A core category: "Juggling meaningful identities" and three conceptual categories were developed: (1) Work life as the strongest identity marker; (2) Motherhood: a two-sided act; (3) Living with rheumatoid arthritis as an identity? Paid work, motherhood, and illness are linked to the women's social identities. The women construct and change their identities in interactions with children, partners, other parents, colleagues, and employers.

CONCLUSION: The women attribute the highest priority to their professional identity, spending the majority of their time and energy in an effort to appear as "good stable workers". The disease is seen as a hindrance in this regard, and the illness identity is almost completely rejected. In motherhood, the women prioritize close interaction with their children, and deprioritize external activities. Extended outbreaks of the disease and issues regarding the children force the women to deprioritize working life. Implications for rehabilitation Juggling meaningful identities of rheumatoid arthritis, motherhood, and paid work challenge women in managing their everyday lives. Therefore, rehabilitation professionals should support individuals to develop new strategies to manage the challenges they experience regarding juggling motherhood and work ability. Work is a dominant identity marker for women with rheumatoid arthritis therefore, rehabilitation professionals have an important role to play in investigating possible ways for the individual to maintain employment or return to work. Living with rheumatoid arthritis and being a paid worker challenge women's role performance and thereby their identification as mothers. Therefore, rehabilitation professionals have to support the women and their families.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and rehabilitation
Volume41
Issue number13
Pages (from-to)1536-1544
ISSN1464-5165
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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Grounded Theory
Return to Work
Disease Outbreaks
Parents
Mothers
Interviews

Keywords

  • Constructivist grounded theory
  • Goffman
  • identity
  • long-term illness
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • role

Cite this

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title = "Juggling identities of rheumatoid arthritis, motherhood and paid work: a grounded theory study",
abstract = "PURPOSE: To explore how women with rheumatoid arthritis manage their illness, motherhood, and work life.METHODS: A constructivist, grounded theory approach based on individual interviews and participant observations with 20 women with rheumatoid arthritis who participated in work life and had children living at home or were pregnant. After initial and focused coding Goffman's concepts of social identity were applied.RESULTS: A core category: {"}Juggling meaningful identities{"} and three conceptual categories were developed: (1) Work life as the strongest identity marker; (2) Motherhood: a two-sided act; (3) Living with rheumatoid arthritis as an identity? Paid work, motherhood, and illness are linked to the women's social identities. The women construct and change their identities in interactions with children, partners, other parents, colleagues, and employers.CONCLUSION: The women attribute the highest priority to their professional identity, spending the majority of their time and energy in an effort to appear as {"}good stable workers{"}. The disease is seen as a hindrance in this regard, and the illness identity is almost completely rejected. In motherhood, the women prioritize close interaction with their children, and deprioritize external activities. Extended outbreaks of the disease and issues regarding the children force the women to deprioritize working life. Implications for rehabilitation Juggling meaningful identities of rheumatoid arthritis, motherhood, and paid work challenge women in managing their everyday lives. Therefore, rehabilitation professionals should support individuals to develop new strategies to manage the challenges they experience regarding juggling motherhood and work ability. Work is a dominant identity marker for women with rheumatoid arthritis therefore, rehabilitation professionals have an important role to play in investigating possible ways for the individual to maintain employment or return to work. Living with rheumatoid arthritis and being a paid worker challenge women's role performance and thereby their identification as mothers. Therefore, rehabilitation professionals have to support the women and their families.",
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Juggling identities of rheumatoid arthritis, motherhood and paid work : a grounded theory study. / Feddersen, Helle; Mechlenborg Kristiansen, Tine; Tanggaard Andersen, Pernille; Hørslev-Petersen, Kim; Primdahl, Jette.

In: Disability and rehabilitation, Vol. 41, No. 13, 06.2019, p. 1536-1544.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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T1 - Juggling identities of rheumatoid arthritis, motherhood and paid work

T2 - a grounded theory study

AU - Feddersen, Helle

AU - Mechlenborg Kristiansen, Tine

AU - Tanggaard Andersen, Pernille

AU - Hørslev-Petersen, Kim

AU - Primdahl, Jette

PY - 2019/6

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N2 - PURPOSE: To explore how women with rheumatoid arthritis manage their illness, motherhood, and work life.METHODS: A constructivist, grounded theory approach based on individual interviews and participant observations with 20 women with rheumatoid arthritis who participated in work life and had children living at home or were pregnant. After initial and focused coding Goffman's concepts of social identity were applied.RESULTS: A core category: "Juggling meaningful identities" and three conceptual categories were developed: (1) Work life as the strongest identity marker; (2) Motherhood: a two-sided act; (3) Living with rheumatoid arthritis as an identity? Paid work, motherhood, and illness are linked to the women's social identities. The women construct and change their identities in interactions with children, partners, other parents, colleagues, and employers.CONCLUSION: The women attribute the highest priority to their professional identity, spending the majority of their time and energy in an effort to appear as "good stable workers". The disease is seen as a hindrance in this regard, and the illness identity is almost completely rejected. In motherhood, the women prioritize close interaction with their children, and deprioritize external activities. Extended outbreaks of the disease and issues regarding the children force the women to deprioritize working life. Implications for rehabilitation Juggling meaningful identities of rheumatoid arthritis, motherhood, and paid work challenge women in managing their everyday lives. Therefore, rehabilitation professionals should support individuals to develop new strategies to manage the challenges they experience regarding juggling motherhood and work ability. Work is a dominant identity marker for women with rheumatoid arthritis therefore, rehabilitation professionals have an important role to play in investigating possible ways for the individual to maintain employment or return to work. Living with rheumatoid arthritis and being a paid worker challenge women's role performance and thereby their identification as mothers. Therefore, rehabilitation professionals have to support the women and their families.

AB - PURPOSE: To explore how women with rheumatoid arthritis manage their illness, motherhood, and work life.METHODS: A constructivist, grounded theory approach based on individual interviews and participant observations with 20 women with rheumatoid arthritis who participated in work life and had children living at home or were pregnant. After initial and focused coding Goffman's concepts of social identity were applied.RESULTS: A core category: "Juggling meaningful identities" and three conceptual categories were developed: (1) Work life as the strongest identity marker; (2) Motherhood: a two-sided act; (3) Living with rheumatoid arthritis as an identity? Paid work, motherhood, and illness are linked to the women's social identities. The women construct and change their identities in interactions with children, partners, other parents, colleagues, and employers.CONCLUSION: The women attribute the highest priority to their professional identity, spending the majority of their time and energy in an effort to appear as "good stable workers". The disease is seen as a hindrance in this regard, and the illness identity is almost completely rejected. In motherhood, the women prioritize close interaction with their children, and deprioritize external activities. Extended outbreaks of the disease and issues regarding the children force the women to deprioritize working life. Implications for rehabilitation Juggling meaningful identities of rheumatoid arthritis, motherhood, and paid work challenge women in managing their everyday lives. Therefore, rehabilitation professionals should support individuals to develop new strategies to manage the challenges they experience regarding juggling motherhood and work ability. Work is a dominant identity marker for women with rheumatoid arthritis therefore, rehabilitation professionals have an important role to play in investigating possible ways for the individual to maintain employment or return to work. Living with rheumatoid arthritis and being a paid worker challenge women's role performance and thereby their identification as mothers. Therefore, rehabilitation professionals have to support the women and their families.

KW - Constructivist grounded theory

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KW - rheumatoid arthritis

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DO - 10.1080/09638288.2018.1433723

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