INTRODUCTION: An evidence gap persists concerning the impact of extreme socio-structural disadvantage, such as homelessness, on the nature and effectiveness of coping with severe mental illness (SMI). While existing reviews of qualitative research into homelessness have focused on processes such as escaping homelessness and managing concurrent problem substance use, as well as on the experiences of specific vulnerable groups such as women and youth, no analogical review has been dedicated to understanding the management of SMI during an episode of homelessness.
AIM/QUESTION: A qualitative metasynthesis of first-person accounts was conducted to understand how individuals cope with SMI when experiencing homelessness. Method The systematic search strategy yielded 481 potentially eligible sources. Following the team-based full-text screening and the two-tiered quality appraisal, 14 studies involving 377 participants with lived experience were synthesized following Noblit and Hare’s metaethnographic method.
RESULTS: Seven third-order concepts were derived capturing the complex nature and processual character of coping, as well as the web of contextual influences upon coping strategies. The resultant line-of-argument synthesis reveals the dialectical relationship between the two higher-order constructs-“the continuum of coping” and “the assemblage of disadvantage.”
DISCUSSION: Despite the profoundly adverse impacts of biographical and socio-structural conditions, many individuals mobilized internal and external resources to enable various coping processes. Coping in the context of multiple disadvantage is not a monolith but rather a multidimensional, contingent and fluid phenomenon. Implications for practice Nursing practice should espouse a humanizing, structurally competent, and strength- and meaning-oriented approach in order to meet the complex and multifaceted needs of such multiply disadvantaged persons.
Coping amidst an assemblage of disadvantage: A qualitative metasynthesis of first-person accounts of managing severe mental illness while homeless
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 27 (1), 4-24. doi: 10.1111/jpm.12524.