A Qualitative Exploration of How Young People Experience and Make Sense of Medically Unexplained Symptoms

Willis, Claudia (2015) A Qualitative Exploration of How Young People Experience and Make Sense of Medically Unexplained Symptoms. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS), symptoms which do not have a full
medical explanation, defy expectations of the illness experience and provide
significant challenges to medical services. Clinical guidelines recommend the coconstruction of a shared understanding of difficulties. However, this is difficult
when symptoms do not have an explanation, and experiences and perspectives of
doctors and patients are mismatched.

A qualitative approach was utilised to explore how young people
experience and make sense of MUS. Semi-structured interviews were conducted
with nine young people who were experiencing symptoms they had been told did
not have a full medical explanation.

Inductive thematic analysis identified young people with MUS have
difficulty making sense of MUS, found it hard living with MUS and were trying
to find a way to manage their symptoms and move forward with their lives.
Participants struggled to fit within the medical system. Without a language and
way to make sense of their experiences, they struggled to integrate this into their
developing identity. Participants assumed a personal responsibility for their
recovery but struggled with this in the context of feeling excluded and

Implications for clinical practice are considered, recommending
discussion of shared uncertainty and ways of managing uncertainty may be
helpful for families and professionals. Suggestions are made for future research
to extend the current findings and a critical appraisal of the research is provided.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Megan Ruddock
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2015 16:24
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2015 16:24
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/54954


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