University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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The lived experiences of persons with lower extremity amputation


Liu, F. Williams, R.M., Liu, H.E., & Chien, N.H.



Publication Info:

Journal of Clinical Nursing, 19(15-16):2152-2161


AIM: The aim of this study was to describe and understand the lived experience of people with lower extremity amputation.
BACKGROUND: The loss of a body part can cause physical, psychological and social disturbances. The majority of previous studies in this area focus on the impact of amputation or the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes. This is the first study in Taiwan exploring the holistic experiences of persons with amputation.
DESIGN: A phenomenological research design was used.
METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were performed with 22 people with lower extremity amputation. Interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using Colaizzi's phenomenological analysis method.
RESULTS: The lived experience of persons with lower extremity amputation could be categorised into the following four themes: 'lost in the dark woods', 'emotional collapse', 'difficulty in passing through the shadow' and 'igniting a gleam of hope'.
CONCLUSIONS: Participants described suffering in physical, psychological and sociocultural realms and the ways they strived to cope with these challenges. The findings of this study provide an enhanced understanding of the experiences of people with lower extremity amputation and underscore the importance of truly listening and responding to their concerns. The need to appreciate cultural context and to develop the peer-based support programme was highlighted.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Health professionals need to acknowledge the real needs of people with lower extremity amputation and provide them a clear explanation regarding the short-term and long-term health issues associated with amputation during the pre- and post-amputation phase. Health professionals also need to expand the scope of services beyond a physical and prosthetic focus. Supportive psychological and social interventions such as formal support groups and peer support programmes may provide a powerful and inexpensive addition to routine care. Currently, such programmes are unavailable in Taiwan.

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