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Quality of life and better than well: a mixed method study of long-term (post five years) recovery and recovery capital

Andrew Collins (Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, Doncaster, UK)
Alison McCamley (Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics, Sheffield Hallam Univeristy , Sheffield, UK)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 4 May 2018

Issue publication date: 22 October 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare quality of life scores in a long-term recovery population group (post five years) with a general population group and to explore how any differences might be explained by recovering individuals themselves in a small number of follow up qualitative interviews.

Design/methodology/approach

A sequential explanatory mixed method design combining quantitative quality of life measure (WHOQOL-BREF, 1996) and six subsequent semi-structured individual interviews. The quality of life measure compared long-term recovery scores (post five years) with the general population group. The subsequent qualitative semi-structured interviews explored what the participants themselves said about their recovery.

Findings

The quantitative data provide evidence of a significant difference in quality of life (WHOQoL-BREF) in two domains. The long-term recovery group (five or more years into recovery) scored higher in both the environment and psychological domains than the general population group. Of the long-term recovery group, 17 people who still accessed mutual aid scored higher in all four domains than those 23 people who did not. The interviews provide evidence of the this difference as result of growth in psychological elements of recovery, such as developing perspective, improvement in self-esteem, spirituality, as well as contributing as part of wider social involvement.

Research limitations/implications

This study provides support for the quality of life measure as useful in recovery research. The empirical data support the concept of recovery involving improvements in many areas of life and potentially beyond the norm, termed “better than well” (Best and Lubman, 2012; Valentine, 2011; Hibbert and Best, 2011). Limitations: snowballing method of recruitment, and undertaken by public health practitioner. Some suggestions of women and those who attend mutual aid having higher quality of life but sample too small.

Practical implications

Use QoL measure more in recovery research. Public health practitioners and policy makers need to work with partners and agencies to ensure that there is much more work, not just treatment focused, addressing the wider social and environmental context to support individuals recovering from alcohol and drugs over the longer term.

Originality/value

One of small number of studies using with participants who have experienced long-term (post five years) recovery, also use of quality of life measure (WHOQOL-BREF, 1996) with this population.

Keywords

Citation

Collins, A. and McCamley, A. (2018), "Quality of life and better than well: a mixed method study of long-term (post five years) recovery and recovery capital", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 217-226. https://doi.org/10.1108/DAT-11-2017-0059

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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