The experiences of individuals with multiple sclerosis in the Western Cape, South Africa
Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.
The original publication is available at http://www.hsag.co.za/index.php/HSAG/article/view/756
Please cite as follows:
Pretorius, C. & Joubert, N. 2014. The experiences of individuals with Multiple Sclerosis in the Western Cape, South Africa. Health SA Gesondheid, 19(1), doi:10.4102/hsag.v19i1.756.
Background: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating and degenerative lifelong neurological disease that seems to be growing increasingly more prevalent in South Africa. Objectives: The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the personal experiences of individuals with MS in the South African context. The focus of this study was on the challenges faced by individuals with MS, as well as the resources that help them to cope with this debilitating, neurological condition. Method: Thematic analysis was used to explore the semi-structured interviews that were conducted with ten individuals with MS. Results: Several themes emerged that related to the participants’ experiences of living with MS. These themes included several challenges faced by the participants on a daily basis, such as the process of being diagnosed, daily life, invisible illness and medical aid schemes. Numerous resources that help these individuals to cope with MS also emerged from the data analysis and consisted of social support, mobility aids, religion and knowledge about MS. Conclusion: It is evident from the findings of this study that although individuals living with MS, which is a debilitating neurological condition, face several challenges on a daily basis, they often have several resources that help them to cope effectively with this condition. The findings of this study regarding knowledge of the challenges faced and the resources utilised by individuals with MS will hopefully create awareness of the disease and contribute to and inform the design and implementation of interventions for such individuals.