Low-income women with genital herpes: Recognizing and managing their fear trajectory
Shirley Countryman Gordon, PhD, MSN, NCSN
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Every illness tells a story and this study tells the story of low income women with genital herpes. The purpose of this research was to generate a substantive theory about the response of low income women to the critical event of being diagnosed with genital herpes. Data were collected from taped in-depth, interviews from a purposive sample of sixteen (16) low income women who had been diagnosed with genital herpes. Informal interviews were also conducted with five (5) health care providers and several clinic staff members on issues related to stigma and the experience of being diagnosed with genital herpes. All data were analyzed following the ground theory method. Fear emerged as the basic social psychological problem faced by the women participating in this study. Following the critical event of being diagnosed with genital herpes, fear became a persistent part of their daily lives. Types of fear included fear of pain, fear of disclosure and fear of passing it on. For women in the study, fear was mediated by illness severity, pregnancy, relationship stability and remembering herpes. Participants responded to fear through the process of managing fear. The phases of managing fear included: controlling information, controlling herpes, and regaining control. Women in the study controlled information about genital herpes through selective disclosure, distancing and selectively choosing information. The women used body listening, reading the signs, recognizing triggers and tending to herpes as strategies to control herpes. Women who were able to forgive and move on expressed a feeling of having regained control over the fear in their lives. This substantive theory illustrates how low income women with genital herpes struggle day-to-day to manage their fear trajectory. Awareness of this struggle opens the door for the development of nursing interventions that recognize fear as a pervasive problem for low income women with genital herpes.
This dissertation has also been disseminated through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. Dissertation/thesis number: 9919569; ProQuest document ID: 304432748. The author still retains copyright.
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