Moult, Alice (2019) How do older adults self-manage distress and what role does the internet have? A qualitative study. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Although anxiety and depression are common in older adults, the medical terms may not be acceptable to them. Older people are more likely to perceive themselves as experiencing distress, and may also feel responsible for managing their own mood problems. To self-manage distress, older people could potentially engage with the internet to access health information or social support. This study aims to explore how older adults self-manage distress, with a particular focus on the role of the internet.
This study is underpinned by social constructionism and takes a qualitative approach towards data collection and analysis. Eighteen older adults (11 females, aged 65 – 91 years) who self-identified as experiencing distress were recruited from community groups in North Staffordshire, England. To generate data, 'think-aloud' methods (including storyboards and an extract from an online forum) were embedded within semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed thematically utilising constant comparison methods. A public and patient involvement and engagement group contributed to development of the research questions and methods, offered their perspectives on the findings and helped to create a dissemination plan.
Findings focus on participants’ experiences of distress and actions taken, which included: pursuing independent activities, seeking social support and attending community groups and church. Five participants consulted a GP when distressed but reported being offered a lack of acceptable treatments. The internet was not considered a source of information about distress or mood problems and participants did not use the internet as a means of accessing social support.
Implications for older adults, healthcare services and policy makers are discussed. When presented with a distressed older adult, GPs should begin by exploring the older person’s own understanding of their distress and its causes, provide information about different management options and consider directing older people to local third sector services. GPs may also need to take into consideration that sign-posting older people to online support might not be acceptable.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Primary, Community and Social Care
Contributors: Chew-Graham, Carolyn (Thesis advisor)
Kingstone, Tom (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2019 14:30
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2019 14:30

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