Self-care activities can be effective in empowering patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in their recovery and health. There are limited information on self-care practices undertaken by veterans with chronic PTSD, so, this study aimed at exploring these strategies in this population.
The present study is the part of grounded theory that was carried out during 2015-2017. Data were collected via semistructured in-depth interviews and field notes. Twelve veterans with chronic PTSD and 13 caregivers participated. They were selected via purposive sampling from Baqiyatallah-Azam Hospital, Sadr Psychiatric Clinic, and West Tehran Consulting Center. Data were analyzed by Corbin and Strauss approach.
The loss of existential integrity was identified as the main concern of veterans with chronic PTSD. Effective and intervening factors in performing self-care activities included spirituality, personal knowledge, family supports, social supports, and institutional facilities, while the dimensions and outcomes of the disease, personality traits, the nature and dimensions of treatments, and inadequate organizational supports were the barriers to self-care. Self-care strategies included incompatible coping (escape or avoidance, isolation, repression and impulsive behavior) and compatible coping (adherence to treatment, seeking social supports, spiritual holding, and attempts to gain and maintain independence).
Self-care strategies of combat veterans with chronic PTSD could be different based on contextual-structural factors. Supportive sources (family, society, and organization) could help in facilitating the use of consistent and effective coping strategies to reconstruct existential integrity.