Participation Information

Purpose of study

The purpose of the study is to gain understanding of how people with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) come to view themselves in relation to the topic of risk. Whilst mental health services tend to view those given this diagnosis as risky individuals who may engage in activities such as self-harm, substance misuse, reckless spending etc, how those given this label view themselves and their behavior is little understood.

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Participation requirements

In order to take part in the study you will need to meet the following criteria:

    1. You need to have been diagnosed with BPD.
    2. You need not to be currently receiving treatment either through the NHS or a private hospital service (i.e. you need to have either been discharged from the NHS and no longer using the support of a care coordinator or to not have entered the Care Programme Approach [CPA] system of care).
    3. You need to not be currently in an ‘acute’ phase of distress and consider yourself to be living a stable life in the community.
    4. You need to have an identifiable support network in place.
    5. You need to have access to an internet enabled computer.
    6. You need to be a resident of the United Kingdom.

Due to limits on the number of participants in this study, although you may meet the above requirements, regrettably you might not be selected. If you wish, however, a contact email address can be given so that, in the event of others ‘dropping out’, you can be considered for participation.

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What you will be asked to do/expectations

If you decide to participate you will need to follow the link to my email address and let me know that you wish to take part. Before being confirmed as a participant, I will ask you a few questions via email to make sure you understand what will be required of you and to confirm you meet the above criteria. If it is decided that you are a suitable participant, a consent form will be sent to your address with a stamped addressed envelope to be returned, assuming that you are happy to sign it.

Once accepted, you will be expected to take part in an interview conducted through emails with myself as the researcher. You can take as long as you like to answer the questions; however, whilst there is no minimum time limit to the interview, practical considerations mean that the ‘back and forth’ of emails cannot extend beyond three months.

Whilst you will be asked a few pre-prepared questions to ‘get the ball rolling’, for example, "What are your thoughts, feelings, or beliefs about the BPD diagnosis?", because the aim of the study is to explore your view of yourself in relation to risk, the kind of answers you give may suggest themes that it would be interesting to explore with further questions from me. In turn, you will be encouraged to ask me questions so that together we can explore the themes of the project.

During the interview, you will also be asked to suggest a particular piece of music, poem, song, movie, book etc that you have found “speaks to you” about your experience (it is not necessary that you are able to do so in order to participate). The reason that this question will be asked is to gain a broader sense of what is important to you beyond the diagnostic label.

Once the interview is completed you will be asked to re-read the email exchange to make sure you are happy with your comments and to give you the opportunity to clarify or change anything you are dissatisfied with.

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Risk of possible harms

Whilst the risks of harm coming to you are judged to be low, the exploratory nature of the interview may reveal themes that you find difficult or distressing.

Although it is not the intention of the interview for you to reveal any traumatic or upsetting information, merely how you view yourself in relation to the subject of risk, if you become distressed due to anything brought up by the interview, I will encourage you to access your support network.

If I believe the interview is causing any undue distress, I may suggest that it would be better for you to cease participation. This does not reflect any failure on your part, only that perhaps it is not the right time for you to be taking part.

Participation is entirely voluntary and you are free to ‘drop out’ of the study at any point. Whilst you don’t need to provide a reason for dropping out, to prevent any unwanted emails from me it would be a good idea to inform me of your intention beforehand.

Please also note that whilst each email service employs their own security measures, no email service is 100% secure if an unauthorised individual is determined to hack into your account. The risk of hacking occurring is judged to be remote due to the research project not eliciting information that would be of use for criminal ends. If you have concerns over email security, please look up security information in relation to your personal email service. The researcher's email service is '1&1 Webmailer 2.0'.

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Once the interview has been completed and you are happy with your answers, I will cut and paste the text into a word document and replace any names with pseudonyms to ensure confidentiality. Having used the word documents in my analysis, they will be stored for five years in a locked cabinet at my home address and then destroyed. All emails will be deleted by me once the word document is finished.

Other than myself, access to the word documents will also be available to my two doctorial advisors, Dr Graham Stew and Dr Kay Aranda.

Whilst any information about you will be kept secure and confidential, in the event that during the course of the interview information is revealed that represents a serious threat to anyone’s safety, confidential information may be given to the relevant authorities to prevent serious harm occurring.

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Expected outcomes

By revealing how those given the label of BPD view themselves in relation to the topic of risk, it is hoped that mental health professionals will be able to change their risk management practice in order to be more sensitive and less restrictive than tends to be the case at present.

It is also hoped that people with a diagnosis of BPD that either take part or read the results will be in a better position to argue against insensitive and overly restrictive risk management practice.

There is no reward for taking part in this study other than the knowledge that you will be assisting in a project that aims to improve the quality of care for individuals who share your diagnosis.

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The results

The results of the study will take the form of a report by me exploring the findings from the interviews and my conclusions as to what they mean. This will be presented in full in my thesis and summarised in a ‘research report paper’ that will be available to you electronically on request and may be published in a mental health journal. The findings may also be presented at mental health conferences.

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Ethics approval

The research proposal has been approved by the University of Brighton’s ethics committee. If during the course of participating you wish to make a complaint you can make this to Prof Julie Scholes, chair of FREGC (CNMR, Mayfield House 263, University of Brighton, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9PH, Tel: 01273 644078 ( 

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Contact the researcher

Thank you for showing an interest in the research project. If, having read the outline of the project you wish to be considered as a participant, please complete the contact form below: