“Can it be that god does not remember me”: a qualitative study on the psychological distress, suffering, and coping of Dominican women with chronic filarial lymphedema and elephantiasis of the leg

The psychological states of Dominican women with chronic lymphedema and elephantiasis of the leg and the coping strategies they used to ameliorate the negative psychological effects of this condition were explored using modified precepts of grounded theory method. Qualitative data were gathered through in-depth interviewing and focus group discussions held in the Dominican Republic. Thematic results found that compounding their physical disfigurement, functional limitations, and social losses were feelings of depression, embarrassment, social isolation, and despair. Adaptive problem solving and emotion-focused coping strategies that emerged during analysis also are discussed. It is recommended that management of psychological distress should be a significant component of lymphedema management programs in developing countries.

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