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Keywords:

  • qualitative research;
  • recovery of function;
  • schizophrenia;
  • self-concept

Abstract

Aim: Although advances in the treatment of schizophrenia have been made, little is known about the process of recovery from first episode of schizophrenia (FES). To date, the study of recovery in the field of mental health has focused on long-term mental illness. This qualitative study addresses ways in which individuals with FES describe their process of recovery and how identified individuals (e.g. family members) describe their perceptions of and roles in the participant's process of recovery.

Methods: Charmaz's constructivist grounded theory methodology was used to interview 10 young adults twice who self-identified as recovering from FES. In addition, 10 individuals were identified who had influenced their recovery and were interviewed once, for a total of 30 interviews. Data collection sources included in-depth semi-structured interviews. Data analysis methods were consistent with Charmaz's methodology and included coding, and constant comparison of data.

Results: The results provide a substantive theory of the process of recovery from FES that is comprised of the following phases: ‘Who they were prior to the illness’, ‘Lives interrupted: Encountering the illness’, ‘Engaging in services and supports’, ‘Re-engaging in life’, ‘Envisioning the future’; and the core category, ‘Re-shaping an enduring sense of self’, that occurred throughout all phases. A prominent feature of this model is that participants' enduring sense of self were reshaped rather than reconstructed throughout their recovery.

Conclusions: This model of recovery from FES is unique, and as such, provides implications for clinical care, research and policy development for these young adults and their families.