1. In this study, the eight principle narrative dimensions related to alcohol recovery identified were: genre, identity, recovery setting, drinking trajectory, drinking behaviors, stages, spirituality and religion, and recovery experience.
2. In female narrators, shame was a prominent theme; a lack of sense of belonging and spirituality were prominent for LGBTQ+ narrators; whereas alienation and inequality were prominent in indigenous narrators.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
Alcohol misuse presents a major health concern due to its prevalence and associated complications. Although many engage in alcohol recovery, little is known at the individual level regarding recovery characteristics such as age, gender, and ethnicity. As a result, the objective of the present systematic review and narrative synthesis was to develop a framework describing the characteristics of alcohol recovery narratives in order to inform future research, policy and practice in various settings.
Of 11 332 identified records, 32 (n=1055, 52.6% male) were included in the final analysis from inception to March 2021. Studies were eligible if they presented an original framework of typologies and/or themes of alcohol misuse recovery narratives through an analysis of empirical data. Studies were excluded if the narrator did not have a personal experience of alcohol misuse. Risk of bias was assessed using the Critical Appraisals Skills Programme (CASP tool for qualitative research). Data was synthesized using a three-stage narrative synthesis approach.
Results demonstrated that there were eight principle narrative dimensions identified: genre, identity, recovery setting, drinking trajectory, drinking behaviors, stages, spirituality and religion, and recovery experience. With respect to specific populations: 1) shame was a prominent theme amongst female narrators; 2) a lack of sense of belonging and spirituality were prominent for LGBTQ+ narrators; 3) alienation as well as inequality were prominent amongst indigenous narrators. However, this systematic review and narrative synthesis was limited by the absence of studies from low income countries and non-Caucasian populations. Nonetheless, the present study contributes to a greater understanding of recovery narratives which will be helpful to influence future research and healthcare practice.
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