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Hermeneutical Phenomenology: Girls with Asperger's syndrome and anxiety and Western Herbal Medicine.

Stewart, Catriona A.


Catriona A. Stewart


Anxiety in young people with Asperger’s syndrome (AS) is of serious concern. With a greater prevalence of girls with AS than previously considered, there is a paucity of research into experiences of anxiety in this population. Girls with AS and their parents may seek help through professional Western Herbal Medicine (WHM), the practice of which has little research evidence. The aim of this study is to explore experiences of girls in Scotland with AS and anxiety during a course of WHM treatment, described by the girls, their mothers and the herbalists.
A Hermeneutical or Interpretive Phenomenological longitudinal case-study approach included a purposive sample of 3 girls, their mothers and 3 Western Medical Herbalists (WMH) (n=9). Innovative methods developed to address specific needs of the girls comprised of licensed computer interview software ‘In My Shoes’ and an online diary facility. Individual interviews took place with all participants, second interviews held with girls and mothers, were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis carried out.
The study was endorsed by Edinburgh Napier University Faculty of Health, Life and Social Sciences Research Ethic and Governance Committee and the National Autistic Society. Informed consent was given by all participants.
Where can we be what we are? was identified as a theme within a narrative of marginalisation in which individuals whose needs are marginalised turn to a treatment marginalised within the prevailing biomedical health care model. Anxiety manifests in girls with AS in a number of ways including chronic insomnia, emotional outbursts and school refusal. The WHM treatment had beneficial effects. However, access to, and compliance with, the treatment, may be inequitable. There is an urgent need for greater support for girls with AS and families, with an evidence base underpinning appropriate intervention.
Diagnosis needs to be accompanied by acceptance in society and the availability of future opportunities. Further qualitative research in this area would increase insight and understanding and provide support for the development of larger scale studies. The creation of ‘best practice’ guidelines in WHM for the treatment of girls with AS is recommended as is a pragmatic clinical trial of WHM for girls with AS and anxiety.
key terms: Girls, Asperger’s, anxiety, Western Herbal Medicine, hermeneutic interpretive phenomenology, methods, In My Shoes

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jun 9, 2011
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Anxiety; Aspergers Syndrome; Western Herbal Medicine; hermeneutic interpretive phenomenology; "In my shoes";
Public URL
Contract Date Jun 9, 2011
Award Date Dec 7, 2010


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