Impairment effects, disability and dry mouth: Exploring the public and private dimensions

Janine Owens*, Barry John Gibson, Karthik Periyakaruppiah, Sarah Ruth Baker, Peter Glen Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Existing accounts of dry mouth concentrate on the medical dimensions and almost completely neglect to consider its social dimensions. Simultaneously, debates on disability have highlighted an apparent split between the individual (medical) and social models of disability. The concept of 'impairment effects' aims to address this dichotomised approach. Impairment effects consider the everyday impact of people's impairments on their lives in conjunction with the disabling impacts encountered through their relations with society, and society's relations with them. This study indicates that identity and self became entangled with impairment effects and a form of disablism. The authors argue that impairment effects are, at times, a useful concept, but in some instances may actually overcomplicate things. By analysing the public and private dimensions of a chronic condition such as dry mouth, we have been enabled to explore the boundary between public and private lives. As a consequence, using public and private accounts may assist us to better locate the point where impairment ends and disability begins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-525
Number of pages17
JournalHealth (United Kingdom)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • chronic illness and disability
  • experiencing illness and narratives
  • narrative analysis


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