Living in a maze: Health, well-being and coping in young non-western men in Scandinavia experiencing substance abuse and suicidal behaviour

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Biong, Stian ; Ravndal, Edle (2010)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being (issn: 1748-2631)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/qhw.v4i1.4996

The aim of the study was to illuminate and interpret the lived experiences of emigration, substance abuse and suicidal behaviour in young non-western men in Scandinavia. The research questions were formulated as: (1) How is meaning constructed in the narratives? (2) What impact do these experiences have on health, well-being and coping? Data were collected using open-ended in-depth interviews. A phenomenological-hermeneutic approach, inspired by the philosophy of Ricoeur, was used to analyse the data. The na?¨ve reading involved awareness of the participants' perceived sense of insecurity in life. The structural analysis identified three themes: (1) the meaning of getting in a tight spot, (2) the meaning of being in a fog and (3) the meaning of the burning bed. A comprehensive understanding of the data was formulated as "living in a maze". Ill health involved having a sense of liminality, which impaired one's possibilities to define and re-define goals. Substance abuse and suicidal behaviour were explicit expressions of not being well, when living in a maze that was perceived as closed. Both problem-focused and emotion-focused coping were used by the participants. These provided the motivation for substance abuse and suicidal behaviour. Key words: Public health, emigration, substance abuse, suicidal behaviour, hermeneutics, men
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