The amputee experience of viewing self in a mirror [poster abstract]
Objective(s): To generate a description of the mirror experience following limb amputation and appropriate clinical and educational interventions.
Design: Qualitative study analyzing transcripts of focus group discussion. The foundation for this study was Ricoeur’s philosophy of phenomenology and hermeneutics, the interpretation of texts and discovery of the decisions, motives, actions, feelings and thoughts associated with an experience.
Setting: Snowball recruitment was used. Recruitment flyers were distributed in an amputation outpatient clinic. This recruitment effort led to two local amputation organizations’ interest in providing participants for the study.
Participants: Dual ethical approval was provided from university affiliates and written research approval was obtained from the rehabilitative hospital where data collection occurred. All participants signed informed consent prior to the discussions.
Main Outcome Measure(s): Description of the experience yielded themes of shock and anguish, followed by recognition and acceptance of self. All participants indicated mirrors helped in the acceptance of an amputation. Two structural themes emerged from the data: mirrors as an everyday occurrence except in healthcare and health care providers’ lack of mirror knowledge.
Results: The individual who introduces the mirror needs to have adequate training on the mirror experience, the emotions an individual may have, how to deal with the psychological responses that may occur, and know when to refer to a psychologist. Participants recommended introducing the mirror in two stages.
Conclusions: Participants believed support was essential when first viewing a mirror. The entire health care team should be aware of the patient’s response and recognize that mirror viewing may be difficult.