The well-being of young people who care for a dependent relative: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Helen Bolas, Anna Van Wersch, Darren Flynn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Developing health care systems have placed an emphasis on unpaid, informal care giving from family members as a community health resource. It is estimated that there are between 19,000 and 51,000 young carers in the UK who are at increased risk of physical and psychological ill health. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the personal experiences of young carers in relation to their well-being using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Semi-structured interviews were carried out with five young carers and the verbatim transcripts served as the data for an IPA. Three themes emerged: (1) what caring means; (2) isolation and distancing from others; and (3) integrating caring. The participants struggled to make sense of caring, found it relentless, overwhelming and frustrating. They experienced stigma, which led to secrecy and withdrawal, cutting them off from their social worlds and the benefit of social support. They actively sought to integrate caring into their emerging sense of self and identity, and derived a sense of pride from caring and used this to combat feelings of uncertainty and isolation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-850
Number of pages22
JournalPsychology and Health
Volume22
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007

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