A study on the constructions of patient identities
Although qualitative research within the field of mental health is growing, few studies of everyday communication between service users and multidisciplinary professionals within mental health institutions exist. This study examines the everyday interactions between mental health professionals and users at two psychiatric facilities in Denmark: an outpatient long-term treatment unit and a closed inpatient ward. The primary method is participant observation lasting three months, involving observations, interviews with users and professionals as well as analysis of psychiatric documents. Inspired by discursive and narrative approaches, the aim of the study is to shed light on how the professionals and users construct patient identities. How are the users and the professionals positioned in their interactions? How are concepts such as psychiatric diagnosis and mental illness negotiated within the institution? How are possibilities for participation and service user involvement negotiated? Finally, the study wishes to understand what the encounters with the professionals and the practices of the institution may mean for the users’ self-understandings and subjectivity.
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4th International Conference on Qualitative Research on Mental Health, 2012