Anglia Ruskin University
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Mental health support across the sight loss pathway: a qualitative exploration of eye care patients, optometrists, and ECLOs

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posted on 2023-07-26, 16:07 authored by Mike Trott, Robin Driscoll, Rupert Bourne, J. Slade, H. Ingleton, S. Farrell, M. Bowen, R. Lovell-Patel, J. Kidd, Shahina Pardhan
BACKGROUND: The process of becoming visually impaired or blind is undoubtedly a highly emotional experience, requiring practical and psychological support. Information on mental health support provision in the UK across the sight-loss pathway, however, is largely unknown, especially amongst healthcare practitioners that are often sought after for advice: the referring optometrist and eye clinic liaison officer (ECLO). This study aims to ascertain the perceived accessibility and quality of mental health support across the sight-loss pathway. METHODS: Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with patients with a diagnosed eye condition who had received care from a hospital eye service, referring optometrists, and ECLOs. Following interview transcription, results were synthesised in a narrative analysis. RESULTS: A total of 28 participants were included in the analysis, of which 17 were participants with various eye conditions, five were referring optometrists, and five were ECLOs. After analysis, three broad themes emerged: (1) The emotional trauma of diagnosis (2) Availability of mental health support; (3) The point where mental health support is most needed across the sight-loss pathway. Several patients reporting that they had received no offer of support nor were they signposted to any possible sources. Referring optometrists and ECLO’s agreed. CONCLUSION: It is important that referring optometrists are aware of the need for mental health support services and can signpost to local support services including the third sector anytime during the referral process. Future large-scale, UK-wide research into referral practice and signposting for mental health support for patients is warranted, to identify how services can be improved in order to ensure that the wellbeing of patients is maintained



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Springer Nature

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Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine & Social Care

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