Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Ken Robinson

Abstract

Social support buffers against the negative effects of significant life events, and peer support is particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing serious health concerns. Stroke is one such event, and often results in a variety of physical and psychological impairments that negatively affect quality of life. Although considered primarily as a condition of the elderly, approximately 20% of strokes occur in people younger than 55. Despite facing significant psychological challenges including negative body image, pressure to return to work, anxiety, isolation, and depression, few younger stroke survivors access peer support services. This study explored young stroke survivors' perceptions of peer support using qualitative semi-structured interviews with eight adults who had a stroke before the age of 35. Thematic content analysis identified that participants had mostly negative perceptions of peer support groups, and were ambivalent about individualised peer support. These results were inconsistent with much of the peer support literature, which suggests that peer support groups are desirable and beneficial for people experiencing significant health concerns. However, these results supported the literature that suggests social comparison can have negative affective results, and the literature about the helper-therapy principle, which describes the benefits for the provider in a peer support relationship.

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