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Title: Understanding the experience of posttraumatic growth following life threatening physical illness
Author: Hefferon, Kate
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 6628
Awarding Body: University of Strathclyde
Current Institution: University of Strathclyde
Date of Award: 2008
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Diverging from the pathological focus of 1950's psychology, positive psychologists have concentrated on the potential for people to grow and enhance their quality of life following adversity, a phenomenon coined as "posttraumatic growth" (PTG) (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996). Although there has been significant advancement in PTG research, there are limitations in the current models, theories and methods of assessment. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to attain an in-depth insight into the nature of PTG following breast cancer diagnosis using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The participants were ten female breast cancer survivors who were self selected as having experienced posttraumatic growth, as well as participated in an exercise programme during their cancer treatment (Mutrie et al., 2007). They participated in one open-ended interview at their one year follow-up, the primary focus being to understand their experience of PTG. The analyses yielded seven main themes: the body, exercise class, existential re-evaluation, self-identity, philosophy change, society and narrative from giowth-to-growth. Four of these have been extensively reported within the literature, thereby justifying the decision to further analyse the themes of 'narrative from growth-to-growth', 'exercise class' and 'the body' as they contributed the most to the expansion of PTG theory. The results suggest a reconfiguration of the Transformational Model of growth (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2006) in terms of its proposed temporal sequences of initiation of growth and exclusivity upon rumination. Additionally, two other themes suggest that the facilitation of growth, and certain PTG outcomes, were the result of both the women's participation in an exercise class and a reconnection to their own body; previously these two elements have not been linked. Overall, the thesis provides in-depth and novel additions to the PTG research within illness related trauma. Future research could extend the findings to develop more definitive, links between thought processes, physical activity interventions and the body in the experience of PTG.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral