Using Facebook to tell stories of premature ageing and sexual and reproductive healthcare across the life course for women with cerebral palsy in the UK and USA

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Abstract

Objective To enhance understanding of the bodily and lifestyle effects of ageing with cerebral palsy (CP) for women, with a particular focus on experiences with sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) services in the UK and North America. Design A qualitative study underpinned by feminist disability theory and drawing on digital ethnographies to capture health and healthcare experiences for women with CP. Setting A global community of 140 women with CP, who are members of the closed international Facebook group, Women Ageing with Cerebral Palsy (WACP). Participants Forty-five members of WACP who were based in the UK and North America. The women were aged between 21 and 75. Methods Messages posted on WACP between January 2018 and October 2018 were collated and underwent thematic analysis to identify themes relating to effects of ageing and experiences of SRH for women with CP at different points over the female life course. Results The breadth of experiences in relation to the effects of ageing and access to reproductive and sexual healthcare for women with CP can be divided into three themes: (1) bodily effects of ageing; (2) lifestyle effects of ageing; (3) experiences of reproductive and sexual healthcare. Conclusions Giving women with CP a platform to 'speak for themselves' in relation to effects of ageing and SRH provides health professionals with an informed knowledge base on which to draw. This might improve treatment for this growing adult patient community whose experiences have not received attention in health discourse or services. Including these experiences in public medical and social discourse can also bring a new knowledge to girls with CP about what ageing could mean for them so plans can be put in place for their future.

Bibliographic note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere032172
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ open
Volume10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Facebook, cerebral palsy, digital ethnography, healthcare, qualitative research, sexual and reproductive health

ASJC Scopus subject areas