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An exploratory analysis of single young women with endometriosis and their life course expectations Mason, Lisa K.

Abstract

This study explores how a chronic disease called endometriosis influences single young women's expectations for family, educational, and occupational careers. Previous research on this disease has focused primarily on the biological ramifications of its presence, and not the social aspects. This exploratory study attempts to not only analyse the effects of endometriosis on life course expectations of single young women, but also what variables might account for differences in expectations within this group. This study consists of two components: a questionnaire component and a semi-structured interview component; data collection was carried out via e-mail. The volunteer sample consisted of women who belonged to support groups on the internet. Seventy-two women participated in the questionnaire component; of those 72, 12 participated in the interview component. Five research problems are analysed; these assess the effects of endometriosis on life course expectations, and what might account for variations in expectations and experiences of living with endometriosis. Interviews are also carried out to address issues not suited to quantitative measures, and to further explore the influence of this disease on life expectations. Questionnaire results failed to find significant effects for time since diagnosis on varied experiences of living with endometriosis; no significant effects were found for type of treatment method(s) undergone, and degree of pain experienced due to endometriosis on life course expectations. Results also suggest that pattern of pain affects life course expectations, and that role strain also plays an important role in determining the effect of this disease on expectations. Interview findings suggest that although women with this disease may not deviate from societal norms in terms of expectations and sequencing of life events, they do find endometriosis creates asynchrony with their own planned life paths. These results also reveal that the ramifications of this disease extend beyond biological effects. Results are discussed in terms of implications for future research, as well as for practitioners and support groups.

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