By means of semi-structured interviews, material was collected concerning the patients´ experiences from a number of specified problem areas. The data from each interview were structured by first identifying relevant problems and then, for each patient and each problem, recording the patient´s description of the meaning of the problem and his manifest or hidden (cognitive) actions taken to master it.
Three global problem areas were identified:
1. Problems related to the patient´s milieu - including people (family and other important human beings), working environment etc.
2. Self image - including feelings of shame because of the epilepsy, being dependent or independent of others, and the felt ability or non-ability to master the situation.
2. Medical symptoms - including the experience of seizures, the treatment and its consequences, and the patient´s experience of his own cognitive functions.
A great number of specific coping startegies could be identified; they were grouped together in 15 wider categories such as Knowledge-seeking, Seeking social support and Hiding the disease. Several of the found categories coincide with earlier known strategies for coping with chronic disease. However, consciously hiding the disease seems to be a more or less "epilepsy-specific" coping mechanism.
In the following, we will study the question whether the choice of coping strategies influences the outcome of epilepsy surgery, measured for example as general satisfaction with treatment or as health-related quality of life. The findings from the present study will also be integrated with Rorschach data from a subsample of 17 patients.
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