Womens Experiences of First Episode Psychosis: From Individual Narratives to Gender-Appropriate Services

Presentation First Author: 
Anna Lavis

It is widely recognised that there are gender differences in the clinical presentation of psychotic disorders, in terms of illness onset, symptomatology and social functioning. Women often develop a first episode of psychosis (FEP) later and their illness experiences may therefore be embedded in different social contexts to those of men. Yet, to date little research has asked whether these variations are mirrored by, or give rise to, gender differences in individuals subjective experiences of psychosis or its effects on their day-to-day lives. Through semi-structured biographical interviews, this NSPCR-funded study engages with the narratives of young women who have undergone a FEP, exploring its impact on their lives, physical health, social worlds and identities. The contextual richness of these first-person accounts engenders understandings of womens experiences that are of applied importance. There remains a lack of knowledge regarding how women, during and following a FEP, engage with health and social care services and what their particular support needs might be. Our data suggest that womens experiences may not always 'fit with clinical narratives of illness and recovery or with service models designed with emphases on youth or care provided by the family or origin. Thus, by drawing together narratives of day-to-day experiences and social needs with those of helpseeking and treatment, this research seeks to offer clinically-relevant insights into how women might be supported in gender-appropriate ways. In so doing, the paper highlights how individuals narratives are key to service development and delivery.

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
January, 2015
Additional Authors: 
Lisa Moody - Sara Clayton - Sheila Greenfield - Linda Everard - Tim Amos - Max Birchwood
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