Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Examining the Experience of People Aging with Scoliosis: A Narrative Analysis

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posted on 2023-09-13, 05:19 authored by Qiwei Pan

Scoliosis is an untreatable and progressive health condition common among older people. This condition has various chronic symptoms that may have a negative impact on different aspects of life, such as employment, life satisfaction, and interpersonal relationships. There is considerable medical research about scoliosis, however, there is limited literature that explores the experiences of people living with scoliosis. Additionally, research on the experience of living with scoliosis tends to focus on children and adolescents instead of older people. Life course theory provides an opportunity to examine and understand the impact of scoliosis on aging as an ongoing process. This study aims to examine the experiences of older people with scoliosis, particularly focusing on their employment trajectories. Participants in this study were aged between 50 and 64 years old and had been diagnosed with moderate or severe scoliosis earlier in their life. Participants were interviewed, and a narrative analysis was used to explore and interpret participants’ lived experiences of scoliosis, including employment experiences. Three main narratives were identified: “Finally I got a diagnosis”, “Scoliosis is a health condition that is ‘out of the box’”, and “Time to re-adjust and/or re-start”. These narratives describe the difficulties of getting a proper diagnosis for people with scoliosis, and the meaning and value of an official diagnosis; the challenges that the unconventionality of scoliosis brings to people; and how scoliosis has affected their employment plans, respectively. This study demonstrated how scoliosis has affected individuals’ decisions and experiences in life, with a strong focus on their employment trajectories. It was found that scoliosis does not only change people’s plans and expectations of their employment, but also affects their experience in workplace, such as their relationships with colleagues. These findings are useful for understanding the lifetime impact of scoliosis and will be helpful in advocating for workplace policies and health and employment services to support people with scoliosis in the future. It is essential to design and develop policies that can include people with scoliosis, and also ensure that the social support and health care system can provide more appropriate services to them.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Health Psychology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Health Psychology

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

209999 Other health not elsewhere classified

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

3 Applied research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Health


Breheny, Mary