From Symptom to Diagnosis: Illness Experiences of Multiple Sclerosis Patients

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Abstract

This interview study describes 61 multiple sclerosis (MS) patients' conceptions of the disease before they were diagnosed and their experiences of the initial symptoms and the diagnosis. Qualitative content analysis was applied. The patients' perception of MS was in most cases disablement and death, but some narrated a more nuanced image of MS. The experiences of the initial symptoms and the diagnosis were stressful. The patients became and remained vulnerable through diagnosis. They managed the situation in a variety of ways to acquire strength. Nurses who encounter MS patients require specialized knowledge to understand the vulnerability of these patients and to provide support.

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