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Title: An exploration of the experience and interpretation of food intolerance
Author: Nelson, Marion A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2750 0363
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis presents an exploration of the experience and interpretation of food intolerance and uses the established literature in the areas of symptom perception, lay sources of health information, and the structure and influences of cognitive illness representations to illustrate and interpret how individuals make sense of this illness identity. The thesis consists of four qualitative studies examining food intolerance from three different perspectives. Study 1 involved in-depth interviews with those who perceive themselves to have a food intolerance, study 2 and 3 involved a content analysis and discourse analysis of the ways in which food intolerance is presented in the print media and study 4 involved in-depth interviews with General Practitioners. The findings of these studies, when examined as a whole, suggested several shared central components in the interpretation of food intolerance. Specifically, the results indicated that food intolerance was not interpreted as an illness per se, nor as a route to the sick role, but as providing an explanation for many of the nonspecific symptoms that frequently occur in the general population. The results indicated that food intolerance is experienced as having an embedded treatment, namely the avoidance of specific foods, which is perceived as both effective and accessible to the individual, and that although food intolerance is interpreted as an uncertain diagnosis, it remains plausible. The thesis concludes that the experience of food intolerance does not sit well within the theories of functional somatic syndromes and pseudo-disease that are commonly used to explain such conditions, but fits instead with the theory of self-diagnosis and lay remedies. It suggest that there may be a justification for the general practitioners cautiously supporting patients’ own management strategies of specific food avoidances for food intolerance though some guidance is required to ensure nutritional well-being. Further research is suggested in this area.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available