Women Have Poorer Body Image After Amputation
July 10, 2019
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine women with lower-limb amputations to collect rich contextual data. Qualitative data was analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).
Three superordinate themes emerged from IPA data analysis: "I don't like the way I am," which illustrated participants' changed relationship with their embodied selves; "Broken/not wanted," which reflected changes participants experienced in their romantic relationships; and "Same but different," which related to participants' changed societal roles as women.The study found that participants' accounts highlighted experiences of decreased sexual well-being, disrupted body image, stigmatization, and resilience. These accounts point to the potential utility of compassion-focused approaches in therapeutic intervention, as well as the necessity for health professionals to involve spouses in sexual rehabilitation conversations and encourage patient-led peer support networks.
According to the study's authors, implications for rehabilitation could include:
- Psychosexual assessment following limb loss involving open-ended questions will likely capture issues of sexual well-being as well as functioning, ensuring that interventions are comprehensive, targeted, and relevant to the individual.
- Women struggle with reconciling their post-amputation kinetic representations of their selves to new ways of functioning, which may impact body image and prosthesis uptake.
- Compassion-focused psychotherapeutic interventions could be effective in addressing problematic coping strategies after amputation such as avoidance and disengagement while enhancing more self-compassionate coping styles.
- Couples distressed about their relationship may not engage in problem-solving discussions around sexuality, highlighting the necessity for health professionals to involve spouses in sexual rehabilitation conversations and interventions.
- Supporting the creation of gendered, peer-led groups to address issues related to sexual well-being is likely to improve overall quality of life for these individuals.