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"Recovery activities are needed every step of the way": exploring the process of long-term recovery in people previously diagnosed with exhaustion disorder
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Department of Health, Education and Technology, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden; Department of Social and Psychological Studies, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Diagnostics and Intervention. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå Centre for Functional Brain Imaging (UFBI). Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Radiation Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology. Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Institute for Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; Institute of Sports Medicine Copenhagen (ISMC) and Department of Neurology, Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg, Copenhagen, Denmark.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4458-6475
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation.
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2024 (English)In: BMC Psychology, E-ISSN 2050-7283, Vol. 12, no 1, article id 248Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Sick-leave rates are high due to stress-related illnesses, but little is still known about the process of recovery from these conditions. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of the recovery process, 6 to 10 years after treatment in people previously diagnosed with exhaustion disorder (ED), focusing on facilitators and barriers for the process of recovery from ED, and recovery activities experienced as helpful during the recovery process.

Method: Thirty-eight participants (average age: 52 years, 32 females) previously diagnosed with ED were interviewed with semi-structured interviews 6–10 years after undergoing treatment. The interviews were analyzed with thematic analysis.

Results: Three themes resulted from the analysis. The first theme, “A long and rocky road”, summarizes the fluctuating path to feeling better and emphasizes barriers and facilitators that affected the process of recovery, with a focus on external life events and the participants’ own behaviors. Facilitators were changing workplace, receiving support, a reduction in stressors, and changed behaviors. Barriers were a poor work environment, caregiver responsibilities, negative life events and lack of support. The second theme “Recovery activities are needed every step of the way” describes how both the need for recovery activities and the types of activities experienced as helpful changed during the recovery process, from low-effort recovery activities for long periods of time to shorter and more active recovery activities. Recovery activities were described as important for self-care but hard to prioritize in everyday life. The last theme, “Reorienting to a new place”, captures the struggle to cope with the remaining impact of ED, and how internal facilitators in terms of understanding and acceptance were important to reorient and adjust to a new way of functioning.

Conclusions: Recovering from ED is a long and ongoing process where recovery activities are needed every step of the way. Our results highlight the importance of supporting personal recovery and long-term behavioral change, addressing individual stressors that may perpetuate the condition, and adjusting recovery activities according to where the person is in the recovery process.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT0073772. Registered on March 8, 2017. This study was pre-registered on Open Science Framework (osf.io).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central (BMC), 2024. Vol. 12, no 1, article id 248
Keywords [en]
Clinical burnout, Exhaustion disorder, Recovery activities, Recovery process
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-224236DOI: 10.1186/s40359-024-01756-zISI: 001214797700001PubMedID: 38711137Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85192161955OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-224236DiVA, id: diva2:1858114
Funder
AFA Insurance, 150175Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2020–01111Available from: 2024-05-15 Created: 2024-05-15 Last updated: 2024-05-15Bibliographically approved

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Aronsson, IngelaBoraxbekk, Carl-Johan

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Aronsson, IngelaBoraxbekk, Carl-JohanEskilsson, Therese
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Department of PsychologyDepartment of Diagnostics and InterventionUmeå Centre for Functional Brain Imaging (UFBI)Diagnostic RadiologyDepartment of Public Health and Clinical MedicineDepartment of Community Medicine and RehabilitationSection of Sustainable Health
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