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Why less may be more: a mixed methods study of the work and relatedness of 'weak ties' in supporting long-term condition self-management

Rogers, A and Brooks, H and Vassilev, I and Kennedy, A and Blickem, C and Reeves, D (2014) Why less may be more: a mixed methods study of the work and relatedness of 'weak ties' in supporting long-term condition self-management. IMPLEMENTATION SCIENCE, 9 (19). ISSN 1748-5908

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Abstract

Background: The distribution of the roles and responsibilities of long-term condition management (LTCM) outside of formal health services implicates a wide set of relationships and activities of involvement. Yet, compared to studies of professional implementation, patient systems of implementation remain under-investigated. The aim of this paper is to explore the work, meaning and function attributed to ‘weaker’ ties relative to other more bonding relationships in order to identify the place of these within a context of systems of support for long-term conditions.
Methods: This is a mixed methods survey with nested qualitative study. A total of 300 people from deprived areas in the North West of England with chronic illnesses took part in a survey conducted in 2010 to 2011. A concentric circles diagram was used as a research tool with which participants identified 2,544 network members who contributed to illness management. Notions of ‘work’ were used to describe activities associated with chronic illness and to identify how weaker ties are included and perceived to be involved through social network members (SNM) contributions.
Results: The results provide an articulation of how SNMs are substantially involved in weak tie illness management. Weaker ties constituted 16.1% of network membership involved in illness work. The amount of work undertaken was similar but less than that of stronger ties. Weaker ties appeared more durable and less liable to loss over time than stronger ties. The qualitative accounts suggested that weak ties enabled the moral positioning of the self-managing ‘self’ and acted on the basis of a strong sense of reciprocity.
Conclusions: Weak ties act as an acceptable bridge between a sense of personal agency and control and the need for external support because it is possible to construct a sense of moral acceptability through reciprocal exchange. Access to weak tie resources needs to be taken into account when considering the ways in which systems of health implementation for chronic illness are designed and delivered.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 11 Medical And Health Sciences, 08 Information And Computing Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: Public Health Institute
Publisher: BIOMED CENTRAL LTD
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2016 14:57
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2016 14:57
DOI or Identification number: 10.1186/1748-5908-9-19
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/2957

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