Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health

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South African adolescents with cystic fibrosis: a qualitative exploration of their bio-psychosocial fields

Carina Jacobie Hugo, Mariette van der Merwe


Objective: This qualitative case study explored risk factors and protective factors in the bio-psychosocial fields of adolescents living with cystic fibrosis (CF).
Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with adolescents in the middle and late adolescent years (15–22 years) who had the defining characteristics of CF and were living in Gauteng province.
Findings: Themes emerged from individual interviews. The fundamental human need to be understood and to understand was negatively affected as the illness affected socialisation and learning. Participants experienced an array of emotions including loss and bereavement linked to their illness and when friends with CF died. Constructive internal dialogue and positive thinking emerged as protective variables. Participants generally showed awareness of how they regulated their contact with the illness and how they self-regulate. Despite the severity of their symptoms and the taxing demands of managing CF, participants expressed hope for the future and could find some meaning in the illness.
Conclusion: Adolescents with CF who participated in this study indicated that they felt different from their peers. Apart from the general developmental tasks typical to adolescence they faced the challenge of managing a severe chronic and potentially terminal illness.

Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2014, 26(3): 177–191
AJOL African Journals Online