Aim: The aim of this paper is to provide a descriptive review of published qualitative research studies on first episode psychosis (FEP).
Methods: A review was undertaken to describe the findings of qualitative studies in early psychosis. Keyword searches in Medline, CINAHL, ASSIA, PsychINFO databases, as well as manual searches of other relevant journals and reference lists of primary papers, were conducted.
Results: Thirty-one qualitative papers (representing 27 discrete studies) were identified. The majority reported research concerning young people based in community settings. The research studies were organized according to the following generic social processes: (i) achieving identity; (ii) acquiring perspectives; (iii) doing activity; and, (iv) experiencing relationships. The papers reviewed are based on first-person accounts obtained from individuals who have experienced FEP, their family members and service providers.
Conclusion: This descriptive review contributes to our understanding of the complex social processes of achieving identity, acquiring perspectives, doing activities and developing relationships as experienced by young people and the significant others in their world. The cumulative findings highlight the contextually rich and detailed information made possible through qualitative studies of FEP. They begin to account for the active engagement of individuals affected by psychosis in making sense of their experience and suggest that this experience should be understood from within young people's own framework of meaning.