Men, chronic illness and health work: accounts from male partners of women with endometriosis




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Peer reviewed



Currently dominant in medical discourse, the concept of self‐management sees the responsibility for health and illness shift from the state to the individual. However, while this emphasis on individual responsibility and management has burgeoned, the role and status of partners and other family members in the management of chronic illness remains under‐theorised. While self‐management privileges individual responsibility for the management of chronic illness, the role of partners remains unclear. This paper utilises data from a study of heterosexual couples’ experiences of living with the chronic gynaecological condition endometriosis to explore how male partners engage in its day‐to‐day management. In all, 22 couples participated in in‐depth, semi‐structured interviews with each partner interviewed separately (n = 44). Data were analysed thematically and dyadically, informed by an interpretivist relational approach. The paper utilises the concept of healthwork to describe the illness work, everyday life work, biographical work and emotion work men engaged in. The paper demonstrates how the conceptual value of healthwork is enhanced by incorporating an analysis of the emotional effort required in managing chronic illness. The paper illustrates the value of investigating the role of partners in managing chronic illness to provide a fuller account of the distributed and relational nature of healthwork.


open access article


Gender, Intimate relationships, Long term conditions, Self-management, Care


Hudson, N., Law, C., Culley, L., Mitchell, H., Denny, E., Norton, W., Raine-Fenning, N. (2020) Men, chronic illness and health work: accounts from male partners of women with endometriosis. Sociology of Health and Illness,


Research Institute

Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)