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A Grounded Theory Exploration of Staff and Patients’ Experiences of Self-harming by Ingestion

Pain, AS; (2011) A Grounded Theory Exploration of Staff and Patients’ Experiences of Self-harming by Ingestion. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the issue of self-harm by ingesting foreign bodies, a form of self-harm which has received little research attention. Part one presents a systematic review of the literature on deliberate ingestion in adults. This aimed to critically assess the literature to ascertain the current theoretical understanding of ingestion and identify gaps in the evidence base. Most of the literature identified was predominantly surgical in orientation, meaning there is to date little understanding of the psychological processes which underpin ingestion. No qualitative research has been undertaken into the experiences of those ingest, or the staff who work with them, which could serve to redress this deficit. Part 2 presents a qualitative study utilising a constructivist Grounded Theory approach which investigated the meanings and functions of ingestion from both a patient and staff perspective. Six patients and six members of staff were recruited from independent sector providers and the NHS. Analysis of the semi-structured interviews revealed a core category of a ‘Journey through Ingestion’ which was characterised by the three stages, ‘Starting Swallowing’ ‘Discovering the Benefits’ and ‘Breaking Free’. The category ‘Struggling with Swallowing’ identified interpersonal and systemic processes within the inpatient environment which were key to understanding ingestion. Part 3 offers a critical reflection on the process of conducting this research. It focuses on four key areas: recruitment, the interview process, transcription and analysis, and the integration of staff and patient perspectives. In light of these discussions it offers recommendations for future researchers and clinical services providing treatment for patients who ingest.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:A Grounded Theory Exploration of Staff and Patients’ Experiences of Self-harming by Ingestion
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English

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