BACKGROUND: Ménière’s disease (MD) is a chronic and, in part, intermittent illness that poses multiple challenges for both the physical and psychological well-being of patients, as well as on those around them. The patients face psychosocial consequences, which include disruptions to life goals, employment, income, relationships, leisure activities, and daily living activities that also influence their family members and friends. However, there is a limited understanding of the impact of MD on significant others (SOs).
PURPOSE: The current study was aimed at identifying how the SOs of patients with MD respond to different aspects of the impact of the disorder on health and life (i.e., psychological aspects, activities, participation, and positive aspects).
RESEARCH DESIGN: The study employed a cross-sectional survey design.
STUDY SAMPLE: The study sample was 186 SOs of patients with MD who were recruited through Finnish Ménière’s Federation.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Participants completed a 25-item structured questionnaire focusing on different aspects of the impact of the disorder on health and life, and also provided some demographic information. Data were analyzed using Kruskal-Wallis test, Pearson’s correlation, and K-means cluster analysis techniques.
RESULTS: Examination of response patterns suggests that the disorder had, on average, a marginal effect on SOs’ psychological aspects, activities, and participation as the SOs generally focused on complaints. Interestingly, SOs reported some positive consequences as a result of their partners’ condition. The results show a limited association between SOs’ demographic variables and response patterns. The Pearson’s correlation suggested a strong association between the subscales psychological aspects, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Also, a weak negative correlation was observed among positive aspects and participation restrictions. The cluster analysis resulted in three clusters, namely, (1) “nonengaged,” (2) “supportive,” and (3) “concerned.”
CONCLUSIONS: The current study results identify that the SOs’ reaction to patients’ condition varies and this may be from coping with victimization. Although the impact of MD on SOs is limited, some of the SOs may have more severe consequences and may require rehabilitation. The information gathered about SOs’ coping and adjustment in this study can also help while developing management and/or rehabilitation plan for people with MD.