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Applying the Adaptive Leadership Framework for Chronic Illness to understand how American and British men navigate the infertility process

Lookup NU author(s): Kevin McEleny


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© The Author(s) 2019.In this article, we sought to understand the adaptive challenges and work faced by men with male factor infertility. Using a prospective qualitative study in private (the United States) and academic (the United Kingdom) urology clinics, we recruited seven American and five British men with primary infertility after their urology consultation for male factor infertility between December 2015 and April 2017. Individual in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted shortly after male factor infertility urology consultation and then two additional interviews at about 3 and 6 months. We found three themes related to adaptive challenges faced during fertility treatment: avoidance (not disclosing, avoided social network), uncertainty (about ability to have a child, fertility-related information, and male factor infertility status), and affective symptoms (sadness, shock, disbelief, denial, about not achieving fatherhood, and poor outcomes). Four themes about adaptive work included focusing on goal (having clear, actionable steps; knowledge received from urologist; exhausted all options; focus on parenthood), support from partner (relationship and communication), support from health care team (provision of emotional support, increased comfort with staff over time, disclosure of knowing others with same condition), and acquired information (understanding issue, support from urologist, seeking information). We concluded that men with male factor infertility face adaptive challenges including avoidance, uncertainty, and affective symptoms. To manage during the treatment process, they use adaptive work including focusing on the goal, receiving support from their partner and health care team, and acquiring information. Although qualitative results cannot be generalized to larger populations, they might be applicable to men with male factor infertility during infertility treatment.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stevenson EL, McEleny KR, Moody E, Bailey DE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Health Psychology Open

Year: 2019

Volume: 6

Issue: 2

Online publication date: 23/08/2019

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 17/09/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2055-1029

Publisher: Sage Publications Inc.


DOI: 10.1177/2055102919871647


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