How Do Patients Construct Their Identities Under Medicalised and Pharmaceticalised Conditions?

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 34 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ikuko TOMOMATSU, Eagle Matrix Consulting Co. Ltd, Japan
This study explores how medicalised and pharmaceuticalised bodily conditions of heart transplant recipients (HTRs) influence their identity.

HTRs need lifelong medical treatment to control their immune systems after surgery. The detailed process of controlling this treatment, such as the quantity of the medicine and the timing of the pill taking, depends on each HTR.

After overcoming heart disease through transplant operations, HTRs tend to think of themselves as individuals, while physicians see them as patients. In other words, the medicalised and pharmaceuticalised bodily conditions of HTRs are understood in various ways by different groups of people. Therefore, the experience associated with lifelong chronic conditions presents a difficult challenge for HTRs regarding their identity. The aim of this study is to develop an understanding of this experience.

The participants for this study were recruited through ‘snowball’ sampling. Inclusion criteria required individuals aged 20 years and over who had undergone a heart transplant operation more than one year before the time of the study. Nineteen Japanese HTRs were interviewed using semi-structured face-to-face interview techniques. Interview data was thematically analysed.

Physicians provide medicalised and pharmaceuticalised treatment to HTRs from their own medical perspectives, which have strong professional power. HTRs are not always passive about the medical care physicians provide them for immune control. In order to improve the quality of their everyday lives, HTRs learn from the medical advice they are given and perceive their own specific bodily responses to medical control. Within medically supervised conditions, they develop their own method of consuming their pills so that they can operate at optimum efficiency on certain occasions such as important business meetings or sports events.

HTRs’ experiences show new perspectives on how patients construct their identities when they are medicalised and pharmaceuticalised under the guidance of their physicians.