Social capital in chronic disease: an ethnographic study

Davide Costa, Michele Andreucci, Nicola Ielapi, Umberto Marcello Bracale, Raffaele Serra


Chronically ill conditions are particularly difficult to manage because of their impact both on the social and on the corporal sphere to such an extent as to involve a series of problems that negatively alter the quality of life of affected patients. Chronicity has also a considerable ef-fect on social capital. In the current literature, it is known that social capital may contribute to a range of advantages to people health. Chronic Venous Disease (CVD) includes several pathologi-cal alterations of the venous system of the lower limbs that cause a wide range of symptoms and signs. The aim of this study is to explore, with a qualitative approach, the dynamics of social cap-ital within people's experience of CVD and describe the roles of family and friends and the health care system. The method used is based on face-to-face semistructured interviews was performed, following the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research (COREQ) checklist. Six-teen patients were included: 11 women and 5 men. The results obtained are completely in line with the current literature, which shows a certain difficulty in terms of daily activities, pain management; work-related difficulties; non-coverage of healthcare costs for medications and drugs prescribed. In the context of social capital, the bonding social capital of the patients inter-viewed was more positively perceived in the role of CVD management than by the patients' fami-lies. Another interesting result concerns the total absence of knowledge of patient associations with CVD. Thus, alongside the biographical destruction that CVD entails, there is evidence of the scarce relevance and presence of health policies capable of improving the quality of life of these people not only from a social and medical point of view but also from an economic point of view


social capital, chronic venous disease, chronicity, qualitative study; ethnographic study; biographical disruption

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