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Title: Gender differences and deliberate self-injury
Author: de Haast, Chloe
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 4429
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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Self-injurious behaviours are associated with long-term negative consequences for social, emotional and physical wellbeing. As such, and in order to inform the development of both treatment plans and preventive approaches, it is necessary to develop a comprehensive understanding of the a etiological factors associated with self-injury. In the first instance, literature assessing the prevalence of self-injury in adolescents was systematically assessed in order to determine the presence of gender differences. This was in response to a lack of clarity within the self-injury field as to whether there are gender differences in the prevalence of self-injurious behaviours. Thirty seven studies were included in the final review and were grouped according to the exclusion of suicidal intent and the assessment method of self-injury. Common methodological limitations across all studies are discussed, including the variation in definition and assessment of self-injury. Results suggested that female adolescents were significantly more likely to report engaging in self-injurious behaviour than males. However, it is unclear whether this finding reflects a gender bias in how self-injury is assessed, or whether there is a true difference in self-injury rates. Gender differences were also reported in both the method and function of self-injury. Recommendations are offered with respect to future research and regarding ‘gold standard’ methods of assessment. In an empirical study, we aimed to improve our understanding of the risk factors and potential functions of self-injurious females and, specifically, whether these differed by gender. Based on previous literature it was hypothesised that an insecure attachment style, either anxious or avoidant, may result in deficits in effective emotion regulation skills. As such, these individuals may become reliant on maladaptive strategies such as self-injury. Three hundred and seventy adults completed measure of attachment style, emotion dysregulation, alexithymia and self-injury. Results suggested a lifetime prevalence of 50.8%, which was notably higher than previous research findings. Furthermore, and contrary to previous research, there were no significant gender differences in prevalence. With respect to the proposed model of mediation, in females there was clear evidence to suggest that emotion dysregulation mediates the relationship between attachment insecurity and self-injurious behaviour. This has important implications for the development of effective preventative and treatment approaches for self-injury in females. In contrast, no such relationship was demonstrated in males. This suggests the need for future research efforts directed at understanding the origins and function of self-injury in males.
Supervisor: Kirby, Sarah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology ; RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine