Navigating the journey of restructuring the self whilst experiencing the unknown: a grounded theory study exploring the psychological effects of guillain-barré syndrome

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological condition that is characterised by a physical loss of function and an uncertain recovery. There is a growing body of research aiming to understand the aetiology, prognosis and effective medical treatment. However, there is a lack of understanding regarding the psychological effects of GBS and the factors that could help to support the process of falling ill and recovery from the syndrome.
Method: A constructivist grounded theory approach was employed, focussing on the iterative process of data collection and analysis, to generate a comprehensive theory that captured and explained the psychological effects of GBS. A sample of 11 individuals with a diagnosis of GBS in the preceding four years were interviewed using purposive and theoretical sampling. The techniques of initial, focused and theoretical coding and constant comparative analysis were utilised to develop an end theory.
Results: The grounded theory concluded that individuals with GBS experience two simultaneous psychological processes: a loss and attempts to regain physical functioning alongside experiencing uncertainty. Knowledge, hope and support were demonstrated to assist an individual in navigating these psychological effects of GBS.
Conclusion: The grounded theory adds to the evidence base by demonstrating the complex interplay between physical loss and uncertainty and the impact of this on recovery from GBS, as well as describing the factors that help to navigate this psychological journey. Implications for practice and tentative recommendations are provided that emphasise the need for knowledge, hope and support, in an attempt to reduce the negative psychological effects of the illness.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorAsh Summers (Supervisor) & Jenna Moffitt (Supervisor)

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