Ménière’s is a long-term progressive inner ear disorder that impacts on the balance and hearing functions of the inner ear. It affects around 120,000 people in the UK and is most commonly diagnosed between 40-60 years of age. Currently, there is no known cure for Ménière’s, and only symptomatic drug treatment.
The first phase of this study used UK Biobank data to analyse the impacts of the disease at a population level. Participant responses to 38 questions about mental health and wellbeing provided the most comprehensive analysis of the condition’s effect on mental health to date.
Using this ‘big picture’ from phase one, the second part of this research conducted individual in-depth qualitative interviews with 16 Ménière’s patients.
These data provided an insight into what it’s like to live with Ménière’s disease in the context of everyday life, and the impact it has on patients’ significant others. Within this group of 16 patients, we sought out eight who received their diagnosis relatively recently and eight who have been diagnosed for six years or more.
In addition, one significant other for each patient – identified as being central to their everyday management of the disease – was interviewed. This enabled us to explore the ways in which patients adapt to living with the disease over time, as well as the detailed nature of social support in this process.