More Than SF-36? Using Narratives to Elaborate Health and Well-Being Data in Recent Lower-Limb Amputees
Limited research has been conducted on the health-related quality of life of people who have undergone a major amputation. This paper explores the complexities of this population, through narratives elicited during in-depth interviews to elaborate data collected through administration of the SF-36 on self-reported health and well-being. Sixty inpatients aged 21–89 were recruited following the amputation of one or both lower limbs whilst at four (two rural, two urban) rehabilitation centres in Victoria, Australia. Results indicated a significant decrease in health-related quality of life in relation to the physical components of the SF-36. However, these limitations were viewed as temporary, and people anticipated a return to higher levels of physical functioning post-rehabilitation. No significant difference was found in regard to mental health (amount of time a person experienced feelings of nervousness, anxiety, depression and happiness) or the overall mental component summary scores, but participants scored significantly lower on three of the four mental components compared with Australian population norms. Qualitative data indicated that participants experienced feelings of social isolation, hopelessness, and grief following their amputation, all impacting significantly on their mental health. Our results highlight the limitations to using the SF-36 as a stand-alone instrument to assess quality of life in a mostly elderly, ill population.
KeywordsAmputation Australia qualitative research methods quality of life
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