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Ciência & Saúde Coletiva

On-line version ISSN 1678-4561Print version ISSN 1413-8123


PINTO, Juliana Maria de Sousa  and  NATIONS, Marilyn Kay. Care and Chronic Illness: Family Caregiver's Viewpoint in Northeast Brazil. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2012, vol.17, n.2, pp.521-530. ISSN 1678-4561.

The provision of care causes stress in everyday family dynamics leading to physical, mental and emotional complications in caregivers and spouses' loss of liberty and/or overwork. Between March and November 2006, this anthropological research examined family caregiving in the context of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). By means of ethnographic interviews, illness narratives and participant observation, the scope was to describe family reorganization and coexistence with the disease and its evolution, caregiver perceptions about patient difficulties and limitations experienced and strategies employed to tackle their illness. Six low-income family caregivers, living in poor, urban areas in the outskirts of the capital city, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil, participated in the study. From the Content Analysis, two categories arose: "sharing suffering" and "attitudes and behavior perceived and experienced by caregivers." In-depth narratives revealed marked affection between patients and their family caregivers. Despite poverty, structural violence, unemployment, social prejudice and low salaries endemic in the Northeast of Brazil, the caregivers find effective ways to cope with chronic illness besides creating strategies to diminish suffering caused by the illness.

Keywords : Care; Family; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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