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Post-print of: Livingstone, W, van de Mortel, TF & Taylor, B 2011, 'A path of perpetual resilience: exploring the experience of a diabetes-related amputation through grounded theory', Contemporary Nurse, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 20-30.

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Post-print available with permission of the publisher. Full text of published version available here through theContemporary Nurse home page.

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Little research has been done on the experience of diabetes-related amputation. The aim of this study was to allow amputees to describe their experiences of amputation and to generate grounded theory that will lead health professionals towards a more comprehensive understanding of the realities of post-amputation life. Unstructured interviews were conducted with five participants with a diabetes-related amputation living in a rural setting, and their respective carers. The interviews were analysed using Grounded Theory methods. Data analysis revealed three categories: ‘imposed powerlessness’, ‘adaptive functionality’ and ‘endurance’. The impact of participant's amputations were influenced by continuing limb problems post-amputation and co-existing complications affecting their physical function. Medical errors and lack of awareness of the risks for diabetic amputations resulted in uncertainty and fear.

The participants' sense of grief, loss and shock post operatively continued later as they came to terms with their awkwardness of movement, yet they moved forward developing their own sense of hope through a coping process that revealed remarkable ability to endure and exert control over lives that seemed to be at the whim of an ongoing disease process. The substantive theory resulting from this grounded theory study was conceptualised as ‘A Path of Perpetual Resilience’. It is important that psychosocial and not just physical adjustment is considered an indicator for determining outcomes for these people, and that future care involves strategies to promote this. A greater sample size is required to determine if these findings are transferable to the general diabetes-related amputation population.

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