Women’s experiences of endometriosis: Qualitative explorations of psychological support, and interactions with healthcare professionals

  • Fiona Varney

Student thesis: Doctor of Clinical Psychology


This thesis explored women’s experiences of endometriosis, using qualitative methodologies. The thesis is comprised of three papers: 1) a systematic review and thematic synthesis, 2) an empirical study, and 3) a critical reflection of the research process. Paper one is a systematic review and thematic synthesis of the experiences of women with endometriosis, with regards to their interactions with healthcare professionals. Nineteen papers, describing fifteen primary studies, were identified during the systematic search, as meeting inclusion criteria for the synthesis. Three main themes were generated during analysis: 1) hopes dashed: expecting solutions and finding none, 2) a new relationship with, and view of, healthcare professionals, and 3) finding their way in a new patient role. The importance of women and healthcare professionals working together to manage endometriosis in a collaborative relationship is identified and discussed. In light of these findings, recommendations are suggested to improve the care for women with endometriosis, within physical health care settings. Paper two is an empirical study of the experiences of women with endometriosis, with regards to accessing and receiving emotional and psychological support, to enable them to live well with the condition. Fifteen women took part in semi-structured interviews, which were subsequently analysed using thematic analysis. Three main themes were generated: 1) A community who can relate: the value of true understanding, 2) being heard and acknowledged: attempted acts of empathy, and 3) a taboo condition: a long way to go. The findings allowed a number of recommendations to be made, which may go some way towards enabling the emotional and mental health needs of women with endometriosis to be met, in the future. Paper three is a critical commentary of the research process, with regards to papers one and two. Key decisions are explored and justified, challenges are described, and strengths and limitations of the research are identified. The relevance and contribution of the research are also considered, and personal reflections of the author are offered.
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGillian Haddock (Supervisor) & Joanna Brooks (Supervisor)


  • women
  • thematic analysis
  • qualitative
  • endometriosis
  • thematic synthesis

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