The psychological experiences of women who survived HELLP syndrome constructed online
Cupido, Jill Lauren
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This thesis is about HELLP Syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count in pregnancy). HELLP syndrome is considered one of the most devastating complications in pregnancy. Once set in motion, the symptoms rapidly progress resulting in organ failure which can lead to the deaths of both the mother and the fetus. The only intervention found to be helpful in saving the mother is immediate termination of the pregnancy. The last couple of years have seen a proliferation in the way people express their feelings, emotions and thoughts utilising online platforms. The internet as a site has thus become an important area of research as it provides valuable information regarding how users write about their own health related experiences.The primary objective of this thesis was to explore the psychological experiences of women who survived HELLP syndrome as constructed online. Through identifying these psychological expressions on line these experiences could be deconstructed. A social constructionist epistemological framework was used as well as social suffering theory. In conventional terms “social suffering” would refer to political relevance only, however the term has theoretical standing as it deals with the core essence of social experiences and takes into account the psychic, social and cultural dimension that make up these experiences. An internet-mediated method was used to conduct this study. The data was collected over a one month period on an online platform which had 3720 members. During that month 87 postings and 228 interactive postings were recorded. Electronic copies of the consent form, information sheet and the ethical clearance letter were posted onto the online platform where it could be accessed by all members. Ethics approval was obtained from the University’s Senate Research and Ethics Committees to proceed with the research study. A thematic decomposition analysis of the data revealed that the main themes were: mourning and loss, memorialization of the loss, experiences of medical staff, intuition, religion and spirituality and social support found online. I attempted to produce a thorough description of the way women construct and make meaning through these experiences. This thesis revealed through its main findings as well as the literature reviewed a large part of pregnancy is seen as natural; my thesis however contradicts this linear process and emphasises the risk that could encapsulate the entire process.