Ongoing research

Obuntu bulamu - A peer to peer support intervention for inclusion of children with disabilities in Uganda

In Uganda approximately 2.5 million children have a disability. The decision to include a child with a disability in the family, school, and community is affected by beliefs about its cause, opinions of relatives, poverty, and the changing social fabric in especially in urban areas.

The Obuntu bulamu research project aims to improve participation, inclusion, and quality of life of children with disabilities in Uganda through the Obuntu bulamu intervention. Obuntu bulamu refers to the human characteristics of generosity, consideration and humaneness towards others in the community, and is closely related to the South African Ubuntu philosophy. The Obuntu bulamu intervention consists of peer to peer support of children, parents, and teachers, on job mentoring, infrastructural changes, development of learning materials using locally available materials, and awareness raising activities. (read more)

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Postdoctoral research: The role of detained female adolescents’ quality of life in explaining offending outcomes in emerging adulthood

It is not well understood why some detained female adolescents refrain from offending whereas others do not. The majority of prospective studies with these females adopt a risk management (instead of a strength-based empowering) perspective, thereby risking to overlook crucial keys to support females’ rehabilitation. The present study takes an important next step towards a strength-based empowering perspective on detained female adolescents by studying their quality of life (QoL) to explain offending outcomes in emerging adulthood, relying on the strength-based Good Lives Model (GLM) of offender rehabilitation. The study is conducted in a sample of 147 detained female adolescents: it includes a quantitative and qualitative follow-up measurement 4 years after detention (T4), building on prior measurements at the start (T0), during (T1-2) and 6 months after detention (T3).

Lore Van Damme (promotor: Prof. Dr. Wouter Vanderplasschen)

Perspectives of persons with dual diagnosis on their pathway to recovery: A phenomenological approach

In recent developments, international mental health care has made a remarkable shift away from a medical-model approach of mental illness towards a recovery-oriented approach, encouraged by the awareness that mental health care should be tailored to the needs of its users. This research project focuses on persons with dual diagnosis (i.e. substance abuse combined with another psychiatric disorder, including a psychotic disorder) and aims to develop a conceptual-semantic framework of recovery, to identify the active ingredients of recovery-oriented care, to develop a  comprehensive idea of the roles, strengths and needs of experts by experience and to gain insight in the use of measuring instruments within a recovery-promoting context. In doing so, a phenomenological approach is applied in order to give voice to the perspectives of patients themselves.

Clara De Ruysscher (supervisors: Prof. dr. Stijn Vandevelde and Prof. dr. Stijn Vanheule)

Uncertainty in the context of conflict, displacement and encampment.

Situations of conflict, displacement and encampment are, in both academic literature and popular media, often considered extremely uncertain. Crisis is seen as a radical rupture of the everyday normality, and displacement is deemed a temporary and liminal condition that will become ‘normal’ again once people return home. But for many people, crisis is the everyday reality rather than an abrupt change, and refugee situations often last for many years. Furthermore, we know little about how refugees themselves experience uncertainty, and about the role of the social and political context herein. Although uncertainty is an important issue in refugee studies literature, it is more often an implicit assumption, than the object of inquiry in thinking about refugee issues. 

In this qualitative longitudinal study, 30 South Sudanese refugees who have arrived in 2015 in Adjumani refugee setting (northern Uganda), are followed over a period of 2 years. The study aims to gain insight in how young refugees experience and deal with uncertainty, and in how their everyday realities and future perspectives are shaped by the social and political context they live in. Through empirical research with young refugees and an engagement with Refugee Studies literature, this study further wants to reflect upon the conceptual tools and approaches we use in order to gain knowledge in these contexts, and inspire alternative ways of thinking about refugee issues.

Julie Schiltz

The role of family and social network support in the recovery process of mentally ill offenders

A lot of research exists about the needs and the recovery process of mentally ill offenders. However, less research has been conducted with attention to the roles, needs and involvement of family or social network members in this process. This research therefore focuses more on the experiences and needs of family and social network members when they are confronted with both psychiatry and a judicial system. By using qualitative interviews, the researcher tries to create a framework about the needs, burdens and strengths of family and social network members in taking care of a mentally ill offender. Afterwards family support groups are organized to bring family members into contact with each other. Within these groups they can share their stories with ‘fellow-sufferers’ and work on their own resilience. The voice of family and social network members, their needs and wishes are heard in this research study to get to know what needs to change in the future so that more attention can be given to the mentally ill offender and his social context.

Sara Rowaert