A qualitative study of understanding reasons for self-harm in adolescent girls

Miller, Michelle, Redley, Marcus ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8866-7990 and Wilkinson, Paul O. (2021) A qualitative study of understanding reasons for self-harm in adolescent girls. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (7). ISSN 1660-4601

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Objective: Self-harm is an important public health issue in the UK. Young people who frequently self-harm feel misunderstood, and unable to access help. Improving understanding is key to informing the development and delivery of effective treatments and services. Methods: In this qualitative study, we interviewed nine adolescent girls (13–17 years old) with recurrent self-harm, recruited from NHS specialist child and adolescent mental health services. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results: Findings revealed that self-harm is experienced as powerful mental and physical urges, sated only by self-harming, suggesting that self-harm could be considered a compulsive rather than impulsive disorder, representing a new perspective on the behaviour. Five themes emerged: emotion regulation; an addictive urge; self-harm to survive; interpersonal triggers; interpersonal relationships, not mechanical distractors, reduce self-harm. Conclusions: This study provides further evidence that non-suicidal self-injury may be engaged in to reduce suicidal risk. Seeking the company of helpful friends or family members may reduce the urge to self-harm. Repetitive self-harm may be a compulsive behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescent,compulsivity,impulsivity,interpersonal,nssi,self-harm,public health, environmental and occupational health,health, toxicology and mutagenesis,sdg 3 - good health and well-being ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700/2739
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2021 23:48
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2024 02:37
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/79675
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18073361


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