Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Postpoliomyelitis syndrome-Psychological aspects, Postpoliomyelitis syndrome-Patients-Attitudes, Postpoliomyelitis syndrome-Patients-Psychology, Polio, Post polio, Secondary disability, Coping, Polio-Patients-Psychology, Polio-Psychological aspects, Adjustment (Psychology)


This qualitative study explores the experience, attitudes, and coping skills of polio survivors confronting post polio syndrome (PPS), the re-emergence of polio-related symptoms in older age. It asks the question, ""What are the experiences and attitudes among individuals experiencing PPS towards declining physical functioning and secondary disability, and what are the resiliencies and coping strategies they are drawing upon in confronting symptoms?" This study seeks to provide social workers with a more richly described narrative of the resiliencies, approaches to coping, and challenges confronted by those with PPS than has been provided by past literature. Furthermore, it seeks to provide insight around the experience of secondary disability and recurrence of illness in general, the needs of these individuals, and their experiences with systems of healthcare. Data for this research was gathered from individual interviews with five male and eleven female polio survivors (n=16) between the ages of 56 and 78, medically diagnosed and/or selfidentifying as experiencing symptoms of PPS. They were questioned about their experience of polio and PPS, the coping strategies they are drawing upon, issues of identity construction, and positive and negative residuals to having polio and PPS. Findings suggest that those confronting PPS often experience similar emotional reactions and challenges, and cope with a rich variety of strategies, some of which are newly formed, some of which they have used throughout their lives. Furthermore, findings illustrate that polio survivors confronting PPS construct meaningful narratives from these experiences and find important residual benefits to them.




iii, 100 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 88-90)