Publication Date

4-15-2018

Advisor(s)

Jill Morawski

Major

Psychology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Tuberculosis remains one of the top causes of death worldwide. Despite the fact that it is curable given a prompt diagnosis and proper treatment, its historical link to poverty significantly hinders elimination efforts in developing countries (World Health Organization, 2017). Moldova is a lower-income country that maintains one of the highest rates of tuberculosis and its drug-resistant forms. However, little is known about the personal experiences of Moldovan TB patients, and many Westerners are even quick to assume that they do not successfully manage everyday life given their low socioeconomic status. In this exploratory qualitative study, I aimed to uncover how marginalized tuberculosis patients in Moldova cope with the challenges of their conditions and treatments. Participants included prisoners, drug users, and rural villagers, and were recruited from a convenience sample provided by a nonprofit organization. Through interviews, these twelve participants provided verbal accounts of their diagnosis and treatment experiences on both a daily and long-term basis. Their accounts were supplemented with photographs in order to enhance the reader's understanding of Eastern European culture and participants' views of their illness. Standardized coping theories were applied and modified in order to reveal multifaceted details about cultural context, meaning-making, and the continuous coping process. The data revealed that certain elements characterized participants' coping mechanisms and enabled them to better deal with TB, such as adaptive behavior and acceptance, self-centered approaches to problem-solving, guarded social behavior, and one's identity within a specific community (such as prison).

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