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A qualitative inquiry into consumer beliefs about the causes of mental illness


A qualitative inquiry into consumer beliefs about the causes of mental illness



Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 20(5): 442-447



ISSN/ISBN: 1351-0126

PMID: 22812505

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2012.01952.x

This paper examines consumer or service user beliefs about the causes of mental illness. It presents a qualitative, participatory action research study involving semi-structured in-depth interviews with 16 people who had been diagnosed with a mental illness and attended a community mental health centre in metropolitan South Australia. Inductive thematic analysis was undertaken, with a range of beliefs about the possible cause of mental illness identified. Findings are organized within two key areas: social or environmental factors and physical or biological factors. The social or environmental category included varied situations, clustered under the subcategories of: stress during childhood, events in adulthood and religious beliefs. Physical or biological factors included beliefs that mental illness was inherited, caused by brain malfunction or chemical imbalance. Of note, one-third of consumer participants who discussed possible causes of mental illness identified multiple potential causes. Implications for service delivery, specifically related to therapeutic trust and engagement, are also considered.

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Accession: 036500387

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