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Title: Adolescent risk taking behaviour : the experiences, motivations and coping styles of young people with and without psychosis
Author: Cogan, Nicola Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 0402
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2007
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Introduction: Adolescence can be a challenging developmental period, often characterised by experimentation, impulsivity, curiosity and uncertainty, making it a heightened potential for risk taking behaviour. Particular concern has been levied at adolescents who have psychotic experiences, given that their adjustment and global functioning is often lower than that of other young people and they may be more prone to engaging in health compromising behaviours. Aims: The primary objectives of the study were to explore the: (1) association between personality (telic & paratelic dominance), coping styles (productive, unproductive & reference to others) and health risk behaviours, and (2) perspectives of young people who experience psychosis in terms of their personal meanings and motivations for engaging in health risk behaviours. Method: A multi-method study comprising of two stages was employed. The first stage was a large scale cross-sectional quantitative study of a school based population (n=407) employed to test the relations between personality, coping styles and health risk behaviours. The second stage comprised of an in-depth qualitative analysis of the perspectives of young people who experience psychosis (n=10) concerning their personal meaning and motives for risk taking. The standardised measures of the main variables were also administered to the clinical group. Results: Analysis from the school based data indicated that adolescents who scored high in negativistic dominance and low in telic dominance were more likely to use the unproductive coping style and engage in health risk behaviours. Coping style was found to mediate the relationship between personality and health risk behaviours. Analysis from the accounts of young people who experience psychosis highlighted the importance of understanding the developmental and social context in which adolescent risk taking occurs. It also emphasised the importance of addressing the social and attitudinal barriers associated with the stigma surrounding psychosis, given that this presents a significant challenge to young people as they strive to rebuild their lives following a psychotic episode. Conclusions: Clinical and health promotion interventions would benefit from tailoring messages to reflect the processes linking state dominance, coping styles and health risk behaviours among young people. Interventions that promote adaptive outlets for positive risk taking and emphasise the importance of maintaining health may be more likely to reduce adolescent engagement in health compromising behaviours. Understanding normative adolescent risk taking and how it relates to developmental processes in essential for those working with young people with and without mental health problems.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available