The phenomenological experiences of psychologists and service users of the routine enquiry of trauma and abuse within adult learning disability community teams

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: The Department of Health (DoH) (2008) advises that all people who enter mental health settings are routinely asked the following question during an initial assessment: “Have you experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse at any one time in your life?” Despite the known prevalence of trauma and abuse within Learning Disability (LD) populations there is currently no literature exploring the experiences of people with LD (PwLD) in being asked this question when they attend their Community Learning Disability Team (CLDT). There is also no literature exploring the experiences of CLDT staff in asking this routine enquiry (RE) question.
Aims: This study aimed to gain insight into the phenomenological experiences of both PwLD and practitioner psychologists during RE within an initial assessment in a CLDT setting.
Method: The study adopted a Multiperspectival Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) design. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with service users of CLDTs (2 participants) and practitioner psychologists from CLDTs (4 participants) who had experience of RE of trauma and abuse. This was followed by Multiperspectival IPA analysis (Larkin, Shaw & Flowers, 2019).
Results: 5 superordinate themes were extracted from the data: “Creating Space”, “The Question itself”, “What helps and what hinders”, “Responses to disclosure”, and “Impacts”. These themes were supported by the existing literature within the general population in relation to RE. In addition, they provided an understanding of some of the key factors for RE to be successful with adults with LD.
Conclusions: The results of this study provide preliminary evidence for the use of RE within CLDTs. Despite the results being consistent with the wider evidence base in the general population, there is a need for wider research with more robust study designs and the inclusion of a wider range of PwLD and staff from CLDTs.
Date of Award2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorAsh Summers (Supervisor) & Kate Empson (Supervisor)

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