First Episode Psychosis: The experience of parent caregivers

  • Author / Creator
    Hamilton Wilson, Jane Elizabeth
  • Psychosis is a serious but treatable psychiatric disorder, characterized by changes in perceptions, thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviours. Each year in Canada, as many as 10,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 30 years of age, may experience their first episode of psychosis (CMHA, 2005). Certainly the emergence of psychotic illness is a distressing and confusing time, not only for young persons experiencing these perplexing changes but also for their parents. The family and in particular the parents, play a critical role in early intervention for psychosis, both as a vehicle for early identification and treatment, and as a supportive context for recovery. An interpretive phenomenological inquiry was undertaken to answer the primary research question: How do parent caregivers experience first episode psychosis in their young adult child? The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to understand the lived experience of parents involved in caregiving for a young son or daughter who is experiencing first episode psychosis (FEP) and 2) to utilize the research Pathway and Hermeneutical Principles of Research (HPR) originally formulated, tested and amplified by Dr. Sherrill Conroy (2003) as the guiding method for accomplishing research predicated on Heideggerian philosophy. In this Heideggerian interpretive phenomenological study, the meaning and experiences of nine parent caregivers with a young adult son or daughter with first episode psychosis were explored. Data were collected through conversations with mothers and fathers whose young adult children were involved with a specialized early psychosis intervention program in southwest Ontario. The nature of the meaning of the parent caregivers’ experience led to uncovering four distinct stories: a story of Protection; a story of Loss; a story of Stigma; and a final story of Enduring Love. The findings of this inquiry help to illuminate and bring awareness to what it means to be parents of a young adult child newly diagnosed with psychotic illness. I illuminate how healthcare providers and nurses in particular can have more discretion, insight and discernment in clinical approaches with parent and family initiatives within early psychosis intervention programs. The findings of this inquiry may also serve to shape future policies, which will recognize and affirm the strengths and resilient capacities of parent caregivers.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2012
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Breitkreuz, Rhonda ( Human Ecology
    • Duggleby, Wendy ( Faculty of Nursing)
    • Cameron, Brenda ( Faculty of Nurisng)