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Professional care after deliberate self-harm: a qualitative study of young people’s experiences

Authors Idenfors H, Kullgren G, Salander Renberg E

Received 22 October 2014

Accepted for publication 16 December 2014

Published 28 January 2015 Volume 2015:9 Pages 199—207

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S76244

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Hans Idenfors, Gunnar Kullgren, Ellinor Salander Renberg

Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Psychiatry, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden


Background: Deliberate self-harm (DSH) is increasingly common among young people. At the same time, treatment and support after DSH are often hampered by low compliance.
Aim: To explore young people’s perceptions of care and support during a 6-month period following their first contact for DSH.
Methods: We conducted nine semistructured interviews with young people aged 16–24 years 6 months after their first contact for DSH. The interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
Results: Three main themes were extracted from the interviews. “Am I really in good hands?” describes whether the participants felt they were being listened to and taken seriously and whether they could rely on the competence of the professionals and the appropriateness of treatment, including keeping agreements and communication with other relevant agencies. “Help should match life circumstances” comprises how basic practicalities such as travel possibilities affect treatment and concomitant assistance in everyday living. Financial matters and jobseeking were perceived as necessary for optimal treatment and well-being. “Making yourself better” includes participants’ efforts to manage on their own, through realizing their own responsibility to be engaged and actively take part in treatment planning.
Conclusion: Flexibility and responsiveness to young people’s own views and specific needs in treatment arrangements are of crucial importance. The significance of basic practical help cannot be underestimated and should not be overlooked.

Keywords: young adults, deliberate self-harm, qualitative, treatment experiences

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