Adaptive coping strategies among individuals living with long-term chikungunya disease: a qualitative study in Curaçao

Churnalisa Doran*, Ashley J Duits, Izzy Gerstenbluth, Adriana Tami, Ajay Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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OBJECTIVE: Long-term chikungunya disease is characterised by persistent rheumatic symptoms following chikungunya virus infection. As there is no specific treatment available, affected individuals need strategies to adapt. However, research on these is scarce. This study aimed to explore which adaptive coping strategies are employed to manage persistent rheumatic symptoms in daily life.

SETTING: The study was conducted in Curaçao.

DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: An explorative qualitative study was conducted between September and October 2020, among a purposive sample of adults, 19 women and 4 men affected by long-term chikungunya disease. In-depth interviews were semi-structured and transcribed verbatim. The data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.

RESULTS: The disease duration for all participants ranged between 68 and 74 months (6 years). In narrating their experiences of coping with long-term chikungunya disease, four themes were identified: (1) learning to live with the disease; (2) resilience for dealing with pain; (3) maintaining positive self-image and attitude; and (4) coping through spirituality.

CONCLUSION: To live with long-term chikungunya disease with dignity in spite of physical pain and discomfort, participants tried to retain a sense of control of oneself and one's lives, to not let the disease take over, focusing on the positive in their lives, and finding strength and remain hopeful. Interventions such as cognitive-behavioural therapy and mindfulness exercises may be effective in strengthening or regain affected individual's sense of competence and control by fostering adaptive coping skills and resilience. Subsequently, these interventions may improve health-related quality of life when rheumatic symptoms persist following chikungunya virus infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere076352
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7-Feb-2024


  • Humans
  • Adult
  • Male
  • Female
  • Coping Skills
  • Chikungunya Fever
  • Quality of Life
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Curacao
  • Qualitative Research
  • Pain


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