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Theorising health professionals’ prevention and management practices with children and young people experiencing self-harm: a qualitative hospital-based case study

MacDonald, Sarah, Sampson, Catherine, Biddle, Lucy, Kwak, Sung Yeon, Scourfield, Jonathan and Evans, Rhiannon 2020. Theorising health professionals’ prevention and management practices with children and young people experiencing self-harm: a qualitative hospital-based case study. Sociology of Health and Illness 10.1111/1467-9566.13211

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Abstract

Self-harm in young people remains a significant concern. Studies of emergency departments have centred on negative professional attitudes. There has been limited interrogation and theorization of what drives such attitudes, and the contexts that sustain them. Adopting a complex systems lens, this study aimed to explore how systems shape professional and patient interactions. It draws upon interviews with healthcare and affiliated professionals (n=14) in a UK case study hospital, with primary focus on the emergency department. Data were analysed using a thematic approach and the principles of grounded theory. Four themes emerged, with the first three centralising how professionals’ practices operate within: 1) a framework of risk management; 2) expectations of progressing patients through the care pathway; and 3) a culture of specialist expertise, with resulting uncertainty about who is responsible for self-harm. The fourth theme considers barriers to system change. A small number of participants described efforts to enact positive modifications to practices, but these were frustrated by entrenched system structures. The potential detrimental impacts for patient care and professional wellbeing are considered. Future practice needs systemic action to support professionals in treating patients experiencing self-harm, while future research requires more ethnographic explorations of the complex system in situ.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0141-9889
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 October 2020
Date of Acceptance: 2 October 2020
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2020 09:51
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/135304

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