Latest Publications

Canvin, K., MacLeod, C., Windle, G., Sacker, A. (2018) Seeking assistance in later life: How do older people evaluate their need for assistance? Age and Ageing DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afx189


Background. Legislation places an onus on local authorities to be aware of care needs in their locality and to prevent and reduce care and support needs. The existing literature overlooks ostensibly ‘healthy’ and/or non-users of specific services, non-health services and informal assistance and therefore inadequately explains what happens before or instead of individuals seeking services. We sought to address these gaps by exploring older adults’ accounts of seeking assistance in later life.
Methods. We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 40 adults aged 68–95. We invited participants to discuss any type of support, intervention, or service provision, whether medical, social, family-provided, paid or unpaid.
Findings. This paper reports older people’s accounts of how they evaluated their need for assistance. We found that the people in our sample engaged in a recursive process, evaluating their needs on an issue-by-issue basis. Participants’ progression through this process hinged on four factors: their acknowledgement of decline; the perceived impact of decline on their usual activities and independence; their preparedness to be a recipient of assistance; and, the opportunity to assert their need. In lieu of seeking assistance, participants engaged in self-management, but also received unsolicited or emergency assistance.
Conclusions. Older people’s adaptations to change and attempts to meet their needs without assistance mean that they do not present to services, limiting the local authority’s knowledge of their needs and ability to plan appropriate services. Our findings offer four stages for policymakers, service providers and carers to target to address the uptake of assistance.


Rugkåsa, J., Canvin, K. (2017) Mental Health, Coercion and Family Caregiving: Issues from the International Literature. British Journal of Psychiatry International 14(3): 56-58


This article summarises current knowledge about two aspects of family care for people with mental illness: potentially pressurising or coercive aspects of family life; and family carers’ experiences of being involved in coercive service interventions. There is a paucity of studies on these topics, especially outside Europe, North America and Australasia, and further research is recommended.
Chambers, S., Canvin, K., Sinclair, J., Baldwin, D. (2017) Identity in Recovery from Problematic Alcohol Use: A Qualitative Study of Online Mutual Aid. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 174: 17-22. 


  • Interviews explored engagement with online mutual aid for problematic alcohol use.
  • Three key stages of engagement were identified: lurking, participating and leading.
  • Online networks afford users control over how they present themselves.
  • Results highlight the role of identity construction processes in recovery.
  • Identities constructed online may help to change offline alcohol-related identities.


Aim To explore how engagement with online mutual aid facilitates recovery from problematic alcohol use, focusing on identity construction processes.

Design Qualitative in-depth interview study of a maximum variation sample.

Setting Telephone interviews with UK-based users of Soberistas, an online mutual aid group for people who are trying to resolve their problematic alcohol use.

Participants Thirty-one members, ex-members and browsers of Soberistas (25 women, 6 men): seven currently drinking, the remainder with varying lengths of sobriety (two weeks to five years).

Findings Three key stages of engagement were identified: 1) ‘Lurking’ tended to occur early in participants’ recovery journeys, where they were keen to maintain a degree of secrecy about their problematic alcohol use, but desired support from likeminded people. 2) Actively ‘participating’ on the site and creating accountability with other members often reflected an offline commitment to make changes in drinking behaviour. 3) ‘Leading’ was typically reserved for those securely alcohol-free and demonstrated a long-standing commitment to Soberistas; leaders described a sense of duty to give back to newer members in early recovery and many reported an authentic identity, defined by honesty, both on- and off-line.

Conclusions Engagement with online mutual aid might support recovery by affording users the opportunity to construct and adjust their identities in relation to their problematic alcohol use; individuals can use the parameters of being online to protect their identity, but also as a mechanism to change and consolidate their offline alcohol-related identity.


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