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The aim of this study was to provide a qualitative perspective of adolescents’ experiences of functional gastrointestinal disorders. In-depth semi structured interviews were conducted with eleven adolescents aged 11–16. The transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three superordinate themes were identified: 1) The journey to diagnosis: the good, the bad and the unknown; 2) Making sense of ‘functional’: the search for meaning; and 3) To share or conceal?: the impact of anticipated stigma on peer disclosure. The themes highlighted a complex process of meaning-making, with limited information about their diagnosis impacting on approaches to self-management and peer disclosure. Findings suggest adolescents would benefit from developmentally appropriate information and resources about the biopsychosocial aetiology of their presentation. It is considered that this may lead to greater self-efficacy in self-management of symptoms and reduce potential for perceived and self-stigma. Further implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry

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