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Health SA Gesondheid (Online)

On-line version ISSN 2071-9736
Print version ISSN 1025-9848


ROOMANEY, Rizwana; ANDIPATIN, Michelle G.  and  NAIDOO, Anika. The psychological experience of women who survived HELLP syndrome in Cape Town, South Africa. Health SA Gesondheid (Online) [online]. 2014, vol.19, n.1, pp.1-9. ISSN 2071-9736.

BACKGROUND: Haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count (HELLP syndrome) is a high-risk pregnancy condition that could be fatal to mother and / or baby. It is characterised, as the acronym indicates, by haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low blood platelets. OBJECTIVE: This study explored women in Cape Town's psychological experience of HELLP syndrome. METHOD: Six participants who previously experienced HELLP syndrome were interviewed. Using a grounded theory approach, themes emerged and a model illlustrating the psychological experience of HELLP syndrome was constructed. RESULTS: The major themes that emerged were the perceived lack of information, a need to assign blame and a shift in focus. Themes of not knowing and trance and/or surreal experience underpin the cognitive aspects of the HELLP syndrome experience. Themes that expressed feelings of an inability to control, whirlwind and/or rapid pace and support acted together to bind the experience. Finally, emotions such as anger, ambivalence, disbelief, anxiety, guilt, loneliness and fear were present throughout the experience. CONCLUSION: This study developed an initial exploratory model representing the psychological experience of HELLP syndrome in a sample of South African women. Underlying this entire experience was a perceived lack of information which had a profound effect on numerous aspects of the experience ranging from where to locate blame to the varied emotions experienced.

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