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The use of digital legacies with people affected by motor neurone disease for continuing bonds: An interpretative phenomenological analysis study

Journal title
Palliative medicine
Publication year
Clabburn, O.; Knighting, K.; Jack, B. A.; O'Brien, M. R.

BACKGROUND: Motor neurone disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease without cure. Little is known about how young people are affected when a family member has the illness and subsequently dies, resulting in a gap in understanding of how best to support them. One psychotherapeutic approach involves creating a legacy to pass onto the young person, but little research has investigated the use of an emerging format, digital legacies, where videos document a person’s life, memories and achievements. AIM: To investigate the views, perceptions and experiences of digital legacies with people affected by motor neurone disease. DESIGN: A qualitative study underpinned by interpretative phenomenological analysis. SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: People living with motor neurone disease (n = 4) and bereaved young people (n = 3) in the United Kingdom. Open-ended interviews were conducted in person. Ethical approval was granted by a University ethics committee. RESULTS: Five key themes emerged exemplifying mutual challenges and benefits for people with motor neurone disease and bereaved young people. Creating a digital legacy provides a sense of purpose for people with motor neurone disease and a way to convey personality and life experiences. Bereaved young people can modify disease-related memories of the person and gain comfort from hearing and seeing videos. CONCLUSION: This study expands the existing continuing bonds model of grief to include an ‘autobiographical chapter’, creating ‘The Model of Reciprocal Bonds Formation’.

Research abstracts