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Australian health professionals’ perspectives of psychosocial adjustment to visible differences: A qualitative analysis of pediatric populations

Gee, Caroline; Maskell, Jessica; Newcombe, Peter; Kimble, Roy; Williamson, Heidi

Authors

Caroline Gee

Jessica Maskell

Peter Newcombe

Roy Kimble



Abstract

Living with a visible difference (e.g., disfigurement) can compromise a child’s psychological wellbeing. Although some children can adjust well, others can develop a range of appearance-related issues such as social anxiety, low self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction. However, current research fails to confirm what factors contribute to appearance-related distress, and what factors buffer the consequences of living with a visible difference. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 16 Australian specialist health professionals who care for children with visible differences. Interviews explored the type of appearance-related psychosocial concerns presented to a pediatric hospital, perspectives on the impact of appearance-related distress, as well as factors and processes that health professionals perceive influence adjustment. Data were subjected to inductive thematic analysis. Rich evidence was offered by health professionals, which demonstrated deep understanding of the psychological wellbeing of their patients. Three themes were identified: Mind, Body, and Soul; Stages of Life; and Individual Differences. Findings highlighted the complexity of appearance-related distress, with individual differences in adjustment, and the powerful impact it can have on a child’s short and long-term psychosocial wellbeing. The importance of reaching consensus in the conceptualisation and measurement of psychological wellbeing is stressed, and key domains associated with adjustment are proposed.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2020
Journal Body Image
Print ISSN 1740-1445
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 33
Pages 13-26
APA6 Citation Gee, C., Maskell, J., Newcombe, P., Kimble, R., & Williamson, H. (2020). Australian health professionals’ perspectives of psychosocial adjustment to visible differences: A qualitative analysis of pediatric populations. Body Image, 33, 13-26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.02.004
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.02.004
Keywords ChildrenYoung people Appearance-related distress, Psychosocial adjustment ,Health professionals ,Visible difference
Publisher URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S174014451830545X
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