Managing disruption at a distance: Unequal experiences of people living with long-term conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic

Morris, Stephanie, Wildman, Josephine M., Gibson, Kate, Moffatt, Suzanne and Pollard, Tessa M. (2022) Managing disruption at a distance: Unequal experiences of people living with long-term conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social Science & Medicine, 302. p. 114963. ISSN 0277-9536

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The COVID-19 pandemic and ‘lockdown’ restrictions have affected people's health and wellbeing globally. Those who are clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 mortality due to living with long term conditions (LTCs) are at greater risk of negative impacts on their health and wellbeing, and of disruption in management of their LTCs. This study explores how people with LTCs managed their health and wellbeing under social distancing restrictions and self-isolation during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and examines why some people were more able to manage than others. Interviews were conducted between May and July 2020 with people (n = 44) living in North East England, who had one or more LTCs and were recruited via a social prescribing intervention. Data were analysed using a social constructivist thematic analysis. We present our analysis of the possibilities afforded to people to manage the impacts of lockdown on their health and wellbeing. We find that while some people deployed a range of capitals and/or etched out ‘tactics’ to make life ‘habitable’, others experienced ‘zones of impossibility’ requiring that they rely on contingent events or formal support. Our analysis highlights inequalities amongst people with LTCs, particularly regarding access to and deployment of important resources for health and wellbeing under COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, including outdoor space or greenspace, exercise and social connection. The study is novel in showing the mechanisms for coping with a significant period of disruption in the life-course whilst highlighting that although resilience was common in people with LTCs, this was sometimes at detrimental costs to themselves.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research Programme, Community Groups and Health Promotion (project reference 16/122/33).
Uncontrolled Keywords: Biographical disruption, Long term conditions, Self-management, Qualitative research, COVID-19
Subjects: A300 Clinical Medicine
B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
L400 Social Policy
L500 Social Work
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2022 14:06
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2022 14:15

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