Perspectives on psychotropic medication treatment among young adults formerly served in public systems of care: A thematic and narrative analysis

Sarah C. Narendorf, Michelle R. Munson, Jerry Floersch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study examines the perspectives of psychotropic medications held by young adults with mood disorder diagnoses. This article presents an analysis of qualitative interviews with 52 young adults who had been involved with public systems of care during adolescence and had used psychiatric medications. A concatenated analytic approach was used. First, we used a thematic analysis across cases, then a narrative analysis within selected cases. Two main themes emerged from the thematic analysis that captured aspects of the experience of taking medication. First, young adults described the effects of the medications and how they thought the medications were working. They described the impact on their moods, thinking, bodies, and functioning, and the ways in which these effects related to their lives. Second, the process of taking medications emerged as an important aspect of the medication treatment experience, including the trial-and-error nature of treatment and interactions with psychiatrists. The narrative analysis within cases identified that some youth created a medication narrative composed of three elements: why medications were needed, what medications do, and participants’ outlook on future medication use. These narratives are helpful in understanding prior patterns of service use and are instructive in framing young people’s future intentions to use medications. Findings support the importance of eliciting the perspectives of young adults about their treatment and ensuring that services are designed and delivered in developmentally appropriate ways tailored to this group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-143
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the Society for Social Work and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Medication adherence
  • Mental health
  • Personal narratives
  • Psychotropic drugs
  • Young adult


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