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Social relationships among adolescents as described in an electronic diary: a mixed methods study

Authors Anttila KI, Anttila MJ, Kurki MH, Välimäki MA

Received 1 November 2016

Accepted for publication 4 January 2017

Published 27 February 2017 Volume 2017:11 Pages 343—352


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Katriina I Anttila,1,2 Minna J Anttila,1 Marjo H Kurki,1 Maritta A Välimäki1,3,4

1Department of Nursing Science, University of Turku, Turku, 2Helsinki University Hospital, Children and Adolescents, Child Psychiatry, Helsinki, 3Turku University Hospital, Development Unit, Turku, Finland; 4School of Nursing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China

Abstract: Social relationships among adolescents with mental disorders are demanding. Adolescents with depressive symptoms may have few relationships and have difficulties sharing their problems. Internet may offer reliable and easy to use tool to collect real-time information from adolescents. The aim of this study is to explore how adolescents describe their social relationships with an electronic diary. Mixed methods were used to obtain a broad picture of adolescents’ social relationships with the data gathered from network maps and reflective texts written in an electronic diary. Adolescents who visited an outpatient clinic and used an intervention (N=70) designed for adolescents with signs of depression were invited to use the electronic diary; 29 did so. The quantitative data gathered in the electronic diary were summarized with descriptive statistics, and the qualitative data were categorized using a thematic analysis with an inductive approach. We found that social relationships among adolescents with signs of depression can vary greatly in regards to the number of existing relationships (from lacking to 21) and the quality of the relationships (from trustful to difficult). However, the relationships may change, and the adolescents are also willing to build up their social relationships. Professionals need to be aware of the diversity of adolescents’ social relationships and their need for personalized support.

Keywords: adolescent, depression, electronic diary, internet, social relationship

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