Life on a slippery slope: Perceptions of health in adults with cystic fibrosis

K. Lowton, Jonathan Gabe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper focuses on how adults with cystic fibrosis (CF) attending a specialist CF centre in the UK perceive their health. In common with many other genetic diseases, CF is traditionally conceptualised as a fatal childhood disease, yet the average survival age for those with CF has been steadily rising over the past half century. Thus it is now predicted that those born in 1990 will live on average for 40 years. To date, however, most sociological work has focused on children or adolescents affected by CF rather than on adults between the ages of 18 and 40, the focus of the study reported here. The paper shows that these adults' varying perceptions of health are related to the effects of CF, its treatment, and the context in which adults are placed. Four concepts of health are identified (health as 'normal', controllable, distressing and a release) along with certain styles, ways of coping and related strategies. Through these analytic distinctions the paper aims to make a contribution to the sociological understanding of lay concepts of health in adults with childhood or genetic disease.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)289-319
    Number of pages30
    JournalSociology of Health and Illness
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • health perceptions, cystic fibrosis, adults, styles, coping, strategies

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