Osteoarthritis is commonly found in weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees, and is the leading cause of disability among community-dwelling Canadian adults. Women are particularly affected by the symptoms of hip and knee osteoarthritis; they report more disability and difficulty with their activities of daily living than their male counterparts. Occupational adaptation allows the women to continue functioning in their life roles, but little is known about their experiences of this process. The purpose of this study was to describe the experience of occupational adaptation in older women with hip and knee osteoarthritis. Eleven Caucasian women, 60 to 75 years old, who reported a diagnosis by a physician of hip and/or knee osteoarthritis participated in this hermeneutic phenomenological study. Vivid descriptions of the women’s experiences of occupational adaptation were sought during focus group and individual interview sessions, which were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was used to determine essential themes within the lifeworld existentials: lived body, lived space, lived time, and lived human relation. Line-by-line analysis was used first and then incidental themes were separated from essential themes. The essence of the experience – “Pursuing Balance” – was the theme that permeated all the women’s experiences and all four lifeworld existentials. The women sought a state of subjective balance in each existential. In the lived body, symptoms direct occupational engagement and adaptation, and adaptive strategies are used to minimize symptoms but remain active. Lived space can facilitate or impede occupational participation, and modifying space is balanced with utilizing existing space. The amount of time spent in occupations affects the severity of symptoms; planning and pacing balance lived time. For lived human relation, supportive relationships help the women maintain their relational identities, and the women balance their independence with accepting help. Achieving balance is the goal of occupational adaptation for these women with hip and knee osteoarthritis. The women’s experiences in this study contribute to theories of occupational adaptation and occupational balance, as well as the experience of living with and adapting to hip and knee osteoarthritis.
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Available at: http://works.bepress.com/lisa_klinger/1/