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Title: Exploring experiences and meanings of self harm in South Asian women in the UK
Author: Wood, Sarah
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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Epidemiological studies have reported significantly higher rates of self harm in South Asian women than South Asian men or White British women, particularly within the 16-24 age group (Cooper et al., 2006). Furthermore, findings of qualitative studies indicate that South Asian women do not feel able to access mainstream support services (Chew-Graham, Bashir, Chantler, Burman, & Batsleer, 2002). As a result researchers have emphasised the importance of developing services which are appropriate to South Asian women’s needs and that achieving this will require understanding of self harm from the women’s own frame of reference (Husain, Waheed, & Husain, 2006). The present study aimed to explore the experiences and meanings of South Asian women who self harm; and their experiences and perceptions of support services. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six women of South Asian ethnicity who have experience of self harm, five of which were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Individual and group level analyses were conducted and three superordinate themes of control, identity and communication emerged, although the interrelations between them were also important in understanding the women’s experiences and meanings of self harm. The meanings of self harm offered by the women in this study are similar to those described in other studies with South Asian women (Bhardwaj, 2001; Chantler, Burman, Batsleer, & Bashir, 2001; Marshall & Yazdani, 1999) and white western women (Babiker & Arnold, 1997); however, the participants’ ambivalence regarding their self harm was more apparent. Qualitative methodology allowed exploration of the complexities and ambiguities in the women’s experiences and meanings, including how they both endorsed and rejected concepts such as ‘culture clash’ and self harm as ’attention seeking’. Participants simultaneously described both positive and negative experiences and perceptions of support services, including valuing a confidential forum within which to talk and feel understood. Themes which emerged included service responses inadvertently exacerbating distress; fear of judgment and the impact of ethnicity. These findings are discussed in relation to the wider research and the extent to which the women’s accounts speak to psychological models of self harm is also considered. Strengths and limitations of the study, clinical recommendations and further research possibilities are outlined.
Supervisor: Mir, G. ; House, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available