Not the story you want? Assessing the fit of a conceptual framework characterising mental health recovery narratives
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PURPOSE Narratives of recovery have been central to the development of the recovery approach in mental health. However, there has been a lack of clarity around definitions. A recent conceptual framework characterised recovery narratives based on a systematic review and narrative synthesis of existing literature, but was based on a limited sample. The aims of this study were to assess the relevance of the framework to the narratives of more diverse populations, and to develop a refined typology intended to inform narrative-based research, practice and intervention development. METHOD 77 narrative interviews were conducted with respondents from four under-researched mental health sub-populations across England. Deductive and inductive analysis was used to assess the relevance of the dimensions and types of the preliminary typology to the interview narratives. RESULTS Five or more dimensions were identifiable within 97% of narratives. The preliminary typology was refined to include new definitions and types. The typology was found not to be relevant to two narratives, whose narrators expressed a preference for non-verbal communication. These are presented as case studies to define the limits of the typology. CONCLUSION The refined typology, based on the largest study to date of recovery narratives, provides a defensible theoretical base for clinical and research use with a range of clinical populations. Implications for practice include ensuring a heterogeneous selection of narratives as resources to support recovery, and developing new approaches to supporting non-verbal narrative construction.