“Modifying” or “Retreating”- Self-management of physical health among a group of people with schizophrenia: An ethnographic study from Denmark

Birgitte Lerbæk*, Rikke Jørgensen, Niels Buus, Marlene Briciet Lauritsen, Jørgen Aagaard, Julie Nordgaard, Andrea McCloughen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

31 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this ethnographic study was to explore how a group of nine Danish people with schizophrenia managed physical health issues as they naturally occurred in everyday life. Qualitative methods were used to generate of data. Thematic analysis led to the description of two typical strategies used by participants to manage debilitating physical health issues in everyday life. Modifying everyday life to manage discomfort was a strategy employed to manage potential or actual discomfort associated with ongoing poor physical health, while retreating from everyday life to recover was a strategy used by participants who experienced recurring discrete episodes of poor physical health characterized by fast deterioration. Both management strategies were inexpedient as they failed to produce any positive progress in terms of the participants regaining health. The social context of participants’ everyday life was characterized by a lack of interactions with others about their prevailing and ongoing physical health issues. Repeated use of these inexpedient strategies to manage physical health caused potential worsening rather than improvements to physical health. There is a need for future research that explores aspects of beneficial management of physical health issues among people with severe mental illness. Relevant foci of such research include enhancing self-management of physical health, active help-seeking behaviours, and opportunities to engage in interactions with others about physical health issues.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1575-1587
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd


  • illness behaviour
  • qualitative research
  • schizophrenia
  • self-management
  • social interaction


Dive into the research topics of '“Modifying” or “Retreating”- Self-management of physical health among a group of people with schizophrenia: An ethnographic study from Denmark'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this