Uncertainty in illness and personal recovery – a qualitative study

Uncertainty is a central aspect in all areas of life and in all its facets. Uncertainty in illness is a well-known concept among many health conditions including chronic illnesses. Much has been investigated in research about how people adapt to different health conditions and how the concept of uncertainty in illness relates to those populations. However, in mental health, even though there is a strong interest in coping and adaptation strategies, the aspect of negotiating uncertainty or dealing with uncertainty has not been really investigated and can hardly be found in the literature except from the perspectives of relatives and health professionals.
The study will investigate the personal experiences of people living with mental illness and therefore in-depth interviews with approximately 30 adults with different mental illnesses will be conducted and analysed using qualitative methodologies based on Grounded Theory. The data collection started in October 2014 in Switzerland.
The study will hopefully develop a new and unique understanding of the adaptation process to mental illness from a patient perspective that can help other people living with mental illness in their own personal recovery and support professional care in the recovery process. This knowledge can improve the quality of care for people with mental health illness by better understanding their struggles, needs and resources.
Peter Wolfensberger is completing this research as part of his PhD under the supervision of Dr Zoe Sheppard and Dr Sarah Thomas.