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

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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.
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Keywords: Young people; caregiver; carers; interpretative phenomenological analysis; psychological experiences; qualitative

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Social Sciences and Law, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, UK 2: School of Health, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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