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Dating and intimate relationships of women with below-knee amputation: An exploratory study

Mathias, Zo�; Harcourt, Diana

Dating and intimate relationships of women with below-knee amputation: An exploratory study Thumbnail


Zo� Mathias

Diana Harcourt
Professor in Appearance Research


Purpose: This study investigates experiences of dating and intimate relationships amongst women who use a below-knee prosthesis. Method: Four women took part in semi-structured online interviews. Transcripts were subject to interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Results: Five themes were identified: Revealing and Exposing: Disclosing the Amputation and Prosthesis; Judging and Judged: Internal Fears and Self-Doubt; Trusting and Accepting: Good Guy/Bad Guy Elimination; Taking it Further: The Need for Depth; and Realisation: Accepting and Feeling Accepted. Participants described how, despite negative feelings towards their appearance and body image, they chose not to conceal their prosthesis when dating. Rather, it was used as a means of screening potential partners in their search for deep and meaningful relationships. Realising that others were not prejudiced towards people who use a prosthetic had helped them become more comfortable with their own prosthesis. Conclusion: These findings suggest that facilitating contact with other below-knee amputees and, in some cases specialist support, could help those who are struggling with the challenges they face regarding dating and intimate relationships. They also highlight the need for researchers and clinicians to give more attention to these important aspects of amputees' lives.Implications for RehabilitationAmputation can have a significant psychosocial impact for those affected.The relative invisibility of below-knee amputation and prostheses can present particular challenges for amputees looking to establish romantic and intimate relationships, particularly around when and how to disclose the limb loss to potential partners.Developing a sense of resilience to the reactions of other people can help those who have undergone below-knee amputation.Support for people affected by below-knee amputation should routinely consider their needs and concerns in relation to new and established relationships, offer specialist psychosocial input when needed and provide opportunities for support from other amputees. © 2014 Informa UK Ltd. All rights reserved: reproduction in whole or part not permitted.


Mathias, Z., & Harcourt, D. (2014). Dating and intimate relationships of women with below-knee amputation: An exploratory study. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(5), 395-402.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Aug 19, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 15, 2016
Journal Disability and Rehabilitation
Print ISSN 0963-8288
Electronic ISSN 1464-5165
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 5
Pages 395-402
Keywords amputation, intimacy, knee, prosthesis, relationships, women, visible difference
Public URL
Publisher URL


FINAL version with reviewers' comments addressed for anonymous submission.pdf (387 Kb)

FINAL version with reviewers' comments addressed for anonymous submission.docx (56 Kb)

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