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Social status and living with a chronic illness: An exploration of assessment and meaning attributed to work and employment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

  • Ivaylo Vassilev
  • Anne Rogers
  • Caroline Sanders
  • Sudeh Cheraghi-Sohi
  • Christian Blickem
  • Helen Brooks
  • Dharmi Kapadia
  • David Reeves
  • Timothy Doran
  • Anne Kennedy

Department/unit(s)

Publication details

JournalChronic illness
DatePublished - 6 Feb 2014
Issue number4
Volume10
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)273-290
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

BACKGROUNDTraditional measures of social status are predicated on position in the labour market. There has been less attention directed to the meanings of social position for people with a long-term condition whose relationship to employment is precarious. Previous research has demonstrated that the MacArthur scale is capable of capturing contextualised aspects of social status, which makes it a useful tool for exploring changes in meaning.AimsThe paper explores the meanings and experiences of social status of people living with a long-term condition with particular reference to employment status. METHODSA sample of 300 participants was drawn from diabetes and chronic heart disease registers of General Practices in North West England. A cross-sectional survey with nested qualitative interviews was used in collecting and analysing the data.FindingsHaving financial independence and participating in valued activities are more important for people with chronic illness than power and status mediated through the labour market. Income and the lack and loss of employment were given a central role in respondents' narratives reflecting the absence of acceptable alternative routes through which social status for those with a long-term condition can realistically be rebuilt outside of participation in the labour market. CONCLUSIONSocial participation, where people with chronic illness feel valued and of tangible utility to other people, might offer some opportunities for rebuilding social status outside the labour market. Chronic illness management interventions need to focus on improving people's engagement with such activities.

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