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  • 2016ClancyDClinPsy

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    Embargo ends: 3/11/21

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An exploration of experiences of bipolar disorder within couples

Research output: Thesis › Doctoral Thesis

  • Anna Clancy
Publication date2016
Number of pages220
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The literature review section of this thesis explores the experiences of partners of individuals with a diagnosis of severe and enduring mental illness (SMI). A comprehensive literature search identified 15 papers which were critically appraised before narrative synthesis was undertaken to integrate their findings. A preliminary conceptual framework for how a person experiences a diagnosis of SMI in their partner was developed. The results suggested partners experience considerable emotional strain, but that this can be mediated by several factors; highlighting areas for intervention. Recommendations were made regarding how healthcare teams should offer support to these individuals by remaining mindful of the specific difficulties they can encounter as a consequence of this unique care-giving relationship.
The research paper section of the thesis presents a qualitative study investigating the experiences of couples in which one partner has a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder (BD). Couples were interviewed together to gain a co-constructed view of the relationship and transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Approach (IPA). Analysis yielded four super-ordinate themes which demonstrate how a diagnosis of BD impacts upon both partners and some of the ways in which they cope with this, predominantly by demonstrating flexibility within their reciprocal roles. The study findings are discussed with reference to recommendations for service provision and future areas of research.
The critical analysis presents some of the major decisions made during completion of the research study, with the aim of supporting others conducting similar research. It discusses the use of joint interviews, the decision to incorporate diagnosis as part of the inclusion criteria and the researcher’s personal reflections on the process.