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Title: An exploration of illness perceptions in mental health utilising the illness perceptions questionnaire.
Author: Baines, Tineke
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 0590
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2011
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This research project explored how mothers experiencing depression after childbirth perceived their mental illness. Illness perceptions were assessed across the dimensions outlined within the Self-Regulatory Model (SRM, Leventhal, Nerenz & Steele, 1984) via the use of the Revised Illness Perceptions Questionnaire (IPQ-R, Moss-Morris, Weinman, Petrie, Horne, Cameron & Buick, 2002). The psychometric properties of the IPQ-R within this clinical sample and relationships between illness perceptions, depression severity and maternal bonding were assessed. A literature review of the use of the IPQ and IPQ-R within mental health identified that these measures with modifications (in particular to the causal and identity subscales) were largely reliable and valid measures of assessing illness perceptions in mental health. The illness dimensions outlined within the SRM were largely endorsed within the clinical populations sampled, offering support of the applicability of the SRM within mental health. Mental illnesses were consistently viewed as chronic with serious negative consequences. Perceptions regarding mental illness consequences, chronicity and controllability were associated with coping strategies and help-seeking. Treatment adherence and attitudes towards taking medication were associated with illness controllability beliefs. The IPQ-R modified for depression after childbirth was shown to be a reliable measure for assessing illness perceptions within this clinical sample and was shown to be reliable over a four-week time period.Mothers experiencing depression after childbirth perceived their depression as having a moderate number of symptoms, a high number of negative consequences and responded to their depression with a number of emotions. Mothers perceived having a coherent understanding of their difficulties, believing that depression was amenable to treatment and personal control and that depression was cyclical in nature. Commonly reported symptoms experienced attributed to depression included depressed mood, difficulties concentrating, loss of interest/pleasure in activities, fatigue/loss of energy and sleep difficulties. Frequently endorsed causes of depression included stress or worry, hormonal changes, own emotional state, family problems, mental attitude and own behaviour. Interestingly, no significant difference was found between illness perceptions of mothers who previously experienced psychological problems and mothers who had not.Mothers who perceived having many symptoms and a high emotional response to depression were more likely to report higher depression severity. Whereas mothers who believed they had control over their depression were more likely to report lower depression severity. Illness identity and consequence beliefs were associated with maternal bonding difficulties. The project's findings were presented with reference to previous literature with implications for theory and clinical practice explored. Difficulties and limitations of the research and its related theory were discussed in addition to reflections upon the research project. Possible improvements to the research procedure and areas for future research were also identified.
Supervisor: Wittkowski, Anja Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Depression after Childbirth ; Illness Perceptions