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Concept: Interpretative phenomenological analysis


This study aimed to explore experiences of men currently using eating disorder services. Eight men from two eating disorder services were interviewed about their experiences of seeking and receiving treatment. Two superordinate themes emerged from Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: (1) difficulty seeing self as having an eating disorder; and (2) experiences of treatment: how important is gender? The underlying themes varied in their specificity to men, with some echoing findings from the female eating disorder literature. Difficulty admitting the eating disorder may link with eating disorder psychopathology as well as gender-specific issues. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.

Concepts: Male, Nutrition, Female, Gender, Sex, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, Abnormal psychology, Psychiatry


Mindfulness-based interventions are reported as being efficacious treatments for a variety of psychological and somatic conditions. However, concerns have arisen relating to how mindfulness is operationalized in mindfulness-based interventions and whether its ‘spiritual essence’ and full potential treatment efficacy have remained intact. This qualitative study used interpretative phenomenological analysis to examine participant experiences regarding the acceptability and effectiveness of a newly designed secularized intervention called meditation awareness training (MAT) that follows a more traditional Buddhist approach to meditation. Participants (with issues of stress and low mood) reported experiencing improvements in psychological well-being due to receiving MAT. The wider implications are discussed.

Concepts: Psychology, Effectiveness, Qualitative research, Efficacy, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, Participant observation, Quantitative research, Meditation


As levels of obesity continue to rise worldwide so do the number of public health campaigns designed to help address this problem with advice and information on how to stabilize or decrease weight. However, few studies have explored the influence of visual images, and specifically photographs, in weight-related health materials despite their widespread use in publications and online. We carried out qualitative individual telephone interviews with eight women who were actively engaged in managing their weight. They viewed a series of photographs of slim and overweight women demonstrating healthy behaviors such as engaging in physical activity or reading a food label. Responses were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The two core themes that emerged were the motivating/de-motivating effect of body size representation on health behavior intentions, and the social implications of being overweight. Participants liked and appeared motivated by the images of larger women, actively seeking out social comparisons. Implications of these findings in the development of health promotion messages are discussed.

Concepts: Health care, Psychology, Public health, Health, Nutrition, Obesity, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, Motivation


This study examines the experiences of women using drugs in weight management. Whilst some of the commonly used substances have been deemed to be safe, most, if not all, still have potentially dangerous side effects for the individual. Five women spoke of their experiences of using drugs in weight management through semi-structured interviews. These were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three themes arose from the analysis: the challenges of weight management, the appealing aspects of drug use and emotion and control. Findings revealed that participants believed they need to be thin in order to be happy and they found weight management difficult due to a variety of internal and external aspects. Drug use was seen as an easier and guaranteed way to manage weight. Participants felt that the use of substances for the purpose of weight management was erroneous with shame attached to it, and yet, drugs helped them to feel in control of their lives, their weight and also acted as a maladaptive emotion regulation strategy. Clinical implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Drug, 2002 albums, Drugs, Drug addiction, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, Emotion, Control


Research into mental health and employment has indicated that work holds multiple meanings for people with mental health problems. This paper reports findings from a phenomenological study which aimed to understand the complexity of these meanings by exploration of the perspectives of one individual who was considering returning to work. Data were gathered through a series of three interviews carried out over a period of 18 months. Three themes were identified - Beliefs and Values about Work, Working with a Mental Health Problem, and Planning for the Future. Analysis and interpretation facilitated understandings of what work represented for the participant. What this study has contributed to the evidence base is a deeper understanding of the multiple meanings of work, and the varied roles that work may play in contributing to meaning and quality of life for people with mental health problems.

Concepts: Understanding, Future, Linguistics, Mental disorder, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, Meaning of life, Knowledge, Problem solving


High levels of mental health problems have been identified in young people who have offended (committed/been convicted of a criminal offence). However, as with many young people, they tend not to seek support for their difficulties. This research aimed to explore support-seeking in this population by asking ‘What are the perceptions of support-seeking in young people attending a Youth Offending Team?’ Semi-structured interviews were carried out with six males (aged 13-18) and the transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Four master themes were revealed: Youth Offending Team attendance prompting reflection, Damaged self, Complexity of relationships and Internal conflicts. Generally participants perceived support-seeking as beneficial, but various barriers meant that they did not tend to view it as a viable coping strategy for themselves. Interventions aimed at addressing these barriers may help young people who have offended to seek support.

Concepts: Psychology, Perception, Mind, Crime, Mental disorder, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, Youth, Young


Purpose of the Study:To explore cause and control illness representations in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). DESIGN AND METHODS: Six older adults living in the North West of England completed semi-structured interviews that were subject to an interpretative phenomenological analysis. RESULTS: Three main themes emerged indicating that participants were trying to make sense of their AD by comparing it with their previous experience of physical health illnesses. All participants acknowledged their diagnosis of AD but engaged with it in a graded way because of a lack of tangible diagnostic evidence. Participants developed pragmatic emotional responses to their situation. IMPLICATIONS: One of the main implications of the results is that caution needs to be exercised within clinical practice so that the pragmatic responses of individuals with AD are not pathologized.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Health care, Psychology, Medicine, Health, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Interpretative phenomenological analysis


This study investigated how men and women made sense of multiple goals during fertility treatment. Both members of three heterosexual couples participated in two or three semi-structured interviews over 6 months, producing 14 accounts, which were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The goal of biological parenthood dominates assumptions in infertility research, but its importance varied between participants, who balanced that goal with retaining emotional well-being, avoiding financial difficulties and maintaining their relationship. These themes are discussed in the context of the self-regulation model, which allows fertility treatment experiences to be conceptualised more broadly than do other models.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Philosophy of language, Management, Infertility, Model, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, Fertility medication, Goal


Religious conversion is an important phenomenon in contemporary religious climate, but existing psychology research work is mostly based on quantitative methods. In an attempt to contribute to this field, the present study proposes a qualitative exploration of religious conversion. The in-depth interview of a French woman is examined in order to investigate her experience of religious conversion, 40 years prior. The interview was analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis, with the purpose of revealing how the participant experienced the process of religious conversion, what was its impact on her life, identity and personality and how she coped with this impact. The four emerging themes were: conflicted relationship with Judaism, the pursuit of a spiritual quest, changes after conversion and life after conversion. These themes painted the image of a powerful spiritual transformation, a profound and dynamic lifelong process, integrating concepts and practices, life changes and developments. The findings are explained with the help of available literature.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Qualitative research, Interpretative phenomenological analysis, Quantitative research, Religion, Social sciences, Conservative Judaism


The objective of the study was to explore the experiences of those who have experienced miscarriage, focusing on men’s and women’s accounts of miscarriage.

Concepts: Empiricism, Experience, Philosophy of science, Interpretative phenomenological analysis