Two women with multiple sclerosis and their caregivers: Conflicting normative expectations

Tineke A. Abma, Barth Oeseburg, Guy A.M. Widdershoven, Minke Goldsteen, Marian A. Verkerk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


It is not uncommon that nurses are unable to meet the normative expectations of chronically ill patients. The purpose of this article is to describe and illustrate Walker's expressive-collaborative view of morality to interpret the normative expectations of two women with multiple sclerosis. Both women present themselves as autonomous persons who make their own choices, but who also have to rely on others for many aspects of their lives, for example, to find a new balance between work and social contacts or to find work. We show that their narratives of identity, relationship and value differ from the narratives that others use to understand and identify them. Since identities, relationships and values give rise to normative expectations, in both cases there is a conflict between what the women expect of their caregivers and vice-versa. The narratives also show that two similar persons with multiple sclerosis may need very different care. This implies that nurses caring for such persons should listen carefully to their stories and reflect on their own perceptions of self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-492
Number of pages14
JournalNursing ethics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2005


  • Autonomy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Narratives
  • Normative expectations
  • Responsibility

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