Cleft lip and palate is a common congenital anomaly affecting males and females. While there is psychological research on cleft lip and palate, there is relatively little research exploring the social context of cleft lip and palate and the experiences of living with the condition on a daily basis. Drawing on common themes emerging from sociological work which have explored the experiences of people living with long-term conditions (uncertainty, social relations, self-esteem and self-image and biomedical concerns), we argue that these themes can be used to help elucidate the experiences of people living with cleft lip and palate. Within this framework, the findings of a qualitative study exploring the experiences of people living with cleft lip and palate are presented. The results suggest that all four themes can be found within the accounts of people living with cleft lip and palate, and there are many commonalities between the experiences of these people and those living with other long-term conditions. Conversely there are interesting areas of divergence. Unlike most long-term conditions, cleft lip and palate is not degenerative and treatment means symptoms will reduce over time. This is reflected in narratives around ‘normality’ as the endpoint of the care pathway. In addition, prenatal diagnosis means that the vast majority of participants within this study were born into, and grew up within, the care pathway. This has implications for the way in which cleft lip and palate is understood and the provision of information, relationships with members of the care team over time and the temporal and contextualised impact of cleft lip and palate on social relations and the self.
|Number of pages
|Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine
|Early online date
|27 Feb 2017
|Published - 1 Mar 2017