UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mental health experiences of people living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) Olure, Bimbola


INTRODUCTION: Despite documentation and clinical guideline recommendations that people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at increased risk for multiple common mental health (MH) concerns, there is limited research investigating their MH experiences, and MH support services are rarely offered as part of routine care to those patients who require increased support from healthcare providers. OBJECTIVES: I aimed to gain in-depth knowledge of MH experiences of people with PCOS (Part 1); and to understand newcomer youth MH experiences and experiences with accessing MH services in Canada (Part 2) to inform MH support services offered to people with PCOS. METHODS: Part 1: I conducted a systematic review of the qualitative literature on the MH experiences of people living with PCOS. Part 2: I conducted a qualitative arts-based investigation using photovoice and timeline mapping to explore the MH experiences of newcomer youth to Canada and their experiences while accessing MH services. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to identify themes in Part 1 and 2. RESULTS: Part 1: I identified three analytical themes: social isolation due to shame from physical symptoms; feeling held back from living ‘a fulfilling life’; and feeling ‘let down’ by the medical profession. Part 2: I identified four inductive themes that describe participants’ mental health experiences: ‘my body is not the same’; ‘a thousand lost days’ from fatigue and depression; ‘I wouldn’t know if I would get pregnant’; ‘I am stronger because of PCOS’, and two deductive themes that describe their experiences while accessing or trying to access mental health services in Canada: ability to perceive the need for; and availability and accommodation of healthcare services in Canada. CONCLUSION: This thesis provides a rich description of the MH experiences of people living with PCOS, including newcomer youth to Canada, and their experiences while accessing MH services. It highlights a need for improved patient-provider communication, for instance through empathic listening, shared decision-making, or the provision of clear and tailored information to people living with PCOS. Furthermore, I describe a knowledge translation tool that could be developed and implemented into clinical practice to improve the care that this population receives.

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