• Adolescents;
  • psychiatric inpatient care;
  • experiences

Background:  To date minimal research has investigated adolescent psychiatric inpatient care from a service-user perspective.

Method:  Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 adolescents with experience of psychiatric inpatient care. Interviews were analysed using the grounded theory method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967).

Results:  A core category, ‘Living in an Alternative Reality’, reflected the unusual nature of the hospitalisation experience. Adolescents reported feelings of restriction and disconnection and used various relational and practical strategies to cope with hospitalisation.

Conclusions:  Results suggest that psychiatric hospitalisation can cause strong affective reactions in adolescents, and may affect psychological constructs such as identity and self-esteem.