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Title: A qualitative investigation into the lived experience of psychosocial assessment following self-harm
Author: Hunter, Cheryl Anne
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis investigated the experience of taking part in a psychosocial assessment following an episode of self-harm from the service user perspective. Psychosocial assessments are a key aspect of self-harm management in secondary care, designed to identify needs and risk and determine further care. This study utilised interpretative phenomenological analysis to privilege the voices of service users and produce in-depth, contextualised understandings of the experience of assessment and its impact on future help-seeking and engagement with services. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews with thirteen participants soon after their hospital attendance; follow-up semi-structured interviews were also completed with seven participants three months later, to explore patient-derived outcomes from assessment and hospital attendance. The lived experiences of participants were characterised by two main features: experiences of life as a struggle and of the self as “less than”. As a result of these struggles and experiences of powerlessness and devaluation, participants mostly saw self-harm and suicide as a natural progression in their narratives. Expressions of suicidal intent reflected a struggle between a desperate desire for change and hopelessness in the face of current circumstances. The key message gained from participants’ accounts of assessment was that the interaction with staff had the power to reinforce or challenge hopelessness and negative self-evaluations. In addition, the way an assessment was conducted had influence beyond the hospital: as an experience which created or reinforced expectations for future instances of help-seeking; as a deterrent or an encouragement to seek help; and as the first step along the path to change. Unfortunately, participants’ experiences of aftercare were dominated by a sense of stagnation due to the failure of services to follow through with promises of aftercare, which affected their attitudes towards future help-seeking and towards themselves. This thesis is the first study to utilise an in-depth idiographic methodology to explore and contextualise the service user experience of psychosocial assessment following self-harm within the wider circumstances of their lives. It demonstrates how patient-staff interactions within the hospital and after discharge can affect future help-seeking through reinforcing or challenging the hopelessness and self-negativity of patients.
Supervisor: Cooper, Jayne; Kapur, Navneet; Chantler, Khatidja Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: qualitative ; self-harm ; self-injury ; self-poisoning ; semi-structured interviews ; service user ; mental health ; health services research ; interpretative phenomenological analysis ; psychology ; psychiatry ; attempted suicide ; psychosocial assessment ; management of self-harm