You can’t see it, you can’t know its impacts from the outside, but an estimated 428, 000 Australians live and cope with rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disease that causes significant physical pain and fatigue, and psychological distress. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs three times more frequently in women than men. Recent figures state over half the people diagnosed were aged between 25 to 64 years impacting women of child-bearing/rearing age. Mothers with rheumatoid arthritis have identified that they find it difficult to cope with motherhood responsibilities alongside managing with the disease. Yet despite this, there is virtually no research that examines how mothers cope with parenting while experiencing the pain and fatigue caused by rheumatoid arthritis. In response, we designed a collaborative project, supported by USC’s Office of Engagement and Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria (A&OV), to elicit and share the coping strategies employed by mothers with RA on the Sunshine Coast. In particular, we employed a feminist lens and narrative inquiry to offer five local mothers with RA to present to camera what they identify as the coping strategies they would like to share with other mothers with the same or similar condition/s. In our presentation we will share video footage of the women participants telling their stories and strategies for coping. As you will see, the two main strategies that participants shared were positive intrapersonal communication and emotional resilience. Thus, the women participants identified emotional strategies more than practical, physical adaptations as most relevant in empowering other mothers with RA to cope with mothering. The films are currently hosted by Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria (A&OV) and we are presently collecting reviews from mothers with RA as to the usefulness of the video as a resource and receiving their advice about what other resources are needed to support mothers with RA.
2015 University Research Conference: Integrate, Innovate, Inspire, Sunshine Coast, Australia 13-16 July 2015