Perceptions of supportive behavior by young adults with bipolar disorder

Eileen F. Doherty, Erina L. MacGeorge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Bipolar disorder is a mental illness with a significant negative impact on quality of life. People with bipolar disorder benefit when family and friends provide social support, but quantity and quality of support are often lacking. We present an exploration of the types of behaviors from support network members that young adults (ages 18 to 30) with bipolar disorder perceived as helpful in coping with the illness. We conducted semistructured ethnographic interviews with young adults (N = 30) with bipolar disorder and analyzed them using qualitative coding methods. We found that young adults with bipolar disorder considered a wide variety of emotion-focused and instrumental behaviors helpful, with some behaviors tailored to the unique characteristics of the illness. These findings also indicate the types of behavior support providers might use to help network members cope with bipolar disorder, and the research needed to better understand social support in the context of chronic mental illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-374
Number of pages14
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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