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Review: research on chronic illness has shifted towards viewing the individual as empowered and a partner in the health management process

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Question How have healthcare relationships in chronic illness changed over the past 15 years?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching Sociological Abstracts, Psychological Abstracts, Dissertation Abstracts, CINAHL, Medline, and Allied Health databases. Monographs, articles, and chapters were identified by searching refereed nursing, social science, and allied health journals and books.

Study selection

Published and unpublished studies of qualitative research in the English language were selected if they were produced between January 1980 and July 1996, investigated the individual or collective firsthand perspective of the chronic illness experience, described the data analysis process, and provided participant demographic data.

Data extraction and analysis

Data were extracted on data collection and analysis methods, research findings, theoretical frameworks, and emergent theories. Meta-ethnography was used as an organising framework for appraising the research methods of selected studies, interpreting and synthesising results, and identifying and explaining emergent …

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  • Source of funding: Canadian Nurses Foundation.

  • For correspondence: Dr. S Thorne, University of British Columbia School of Nursing, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 2B5, Canada. Fax +1 604 822 7466.