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Making sense of children's medically unexplained symptoms: Managing ambiguity, authenticity and responsibility

Morris, A and Ogden, J (2012) Making sense of children's medically unexplained symptoms: Managing ambiguity, authenticity and responsibility Psychology, Health and Medicine, 17 (3). 285 - 294. ISSN 1354-8506

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Abstract

Medically unexplained symptoms such as headache, tiredness and stomach problems are common amongst children and research highlights the potential importance of the family environment in their development and maintenance. The present qualitative study aimed to explore how mothers make sense and manage their child's unexplained recurrent somatic symptoms. Mothers (n=13) with children with headaches, tiredness or stomach problems were interviewed. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Three main areas emerged relating to "making sense of the symptom", "impact of the symptom" and "strategies for coping". Transcending these areas were three core issues relating to managing ambiguity, authenticity and responsibility. In particular, more ambiguous symptoms were associated with making uncontrollable causal attributions that removed responsibility away from the family. Further, even though the mothers reported coping strategies that may have exacerbated their child's symptoms these were defended in ways to minimise their own potential influence on the symptom and to emphasise its authenticity. In conclusion, mothers perceptions and behaviours may be counterproductive in the longer term but function in the more immediate term by facilitating a protective relationship with their child. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an article published as Morris A, Ogden J (2012). Making sense of children's medically unexplained symptoms: Managing ambiguity, authenticity and responsibility. Psychology, Health and Medicine 17(3):285-294 Available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cphm20/17/3
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Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2012 15:39
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2013 19:45
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/732527

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