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    Journey for a cure: illness narratives of obstetric fistula survivors in North Central Nigeria

    Degge, Hannah M, Laurenson, Mary, Dumbili, Emeka W, Saxby, Heidi and Hayter, Mark ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2537-8355 (2023) Journey for a cure: illness narratives of obstetric fistula survivors in North Central Nigeria. Sociology of Health and Illness. ISSN 0141-9889

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    Abstract

    Obstetric fistula is a life transforming event resulting in embodied biographical disruption. Survivors suffer myriad long-term physical and emotional consequences. This paper is an account of a narrative inquiry, conducted with 15 fistula survivors in North-central, Nigeria, who described how their identities had been transformed by their condition. A narrative therapeutic approach, using Frank's 'chaos, restitution and quest' typology, was used to map their recovery narratives. 'Chaos', described by Frank as the opposite of restitution, dominated, with women losing hope of recovery. Women's shift towards 'restitution' began with treatment, but inadequate health-care access often delayed this process. In their quest narratives, women's life and identify changes enabled them to derive meaning from their experience of obstetric fistula within the context of their own lives. The findings highlight socio-structural factors raising the risk of obstetric fistula, which in turn causes biographical disruption and hampers sufferers' treatment and recovery. Rehabilitation should include income-generating skills to bring succour to survivors, particularly those whose incontinence persists after repairs.

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