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Women living with chronic illness experienced transition that involved stages of distress and a quest for ordinariness

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QUESTION: What is the meaning of living with chronic illness for midlife women?


A feminist participatory research design.


No fixed setting because of data collection method (email and letter writing).


81 women aged 30–50 years (mean age 44 y) who identified themselves as living with adult onset chronic illness. Women were from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, North America, and the United Kingdom.


Through email and letter writing spanning 12 months, women told their stories about their experiences of living with chronic illness. The frequency of correspondence varied at the discretion of each participant. Correspondence data from participants were thematically analysed. A subset of engaged participants was actively involved in developing constructs and themes by offering validation, clarification, and interpretation.

Main findings

2 major themes emerged: extraordinariness, which represented the phase of turmoil and distress …

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  • For correspondence: Dr D Kralik, Royal District Nursing Service Research Unit, Flinders University of South Australia, Glenside, Australia. kralik{at}

  • Source of funding: no external funding.