Background: No systematic review and narrative synthesis on personal recovery in mental illness has been undertaken.
Aims: To synthesise published descriptions and models of personal recovery into an empirically based conceptual framework.
Method: Systematic review and modified narrative synthesis.
Results: Out of 5208 papers that were identified and 366 that were reviewed, a total of 97 papers were included in this review. The emergent conceptual framework consists of: (a) 13 characteristics of the recovery journey; (b) five recovery processes comprising: connectedness; hope and optimism about the future; identity; meaning in life; and empowerment (giving the acronym CHIME); and (c) recovery stage descriptions which mapped onto the transtheoretical model of change. Studies that focused on recovery for individuals of Black and minority ethnic (BME) origin showed a greater emphasis on spirituality and stigma and also identified two additional themes: culturally specific facilitating factors and collectivist notions of recovery.
Conclusions: The conceptual framework is a theoretically defensible and robust synthesis of people's experiences of recovery in mental illness. This provides an empirical basis for future recovery-oriented research and practice.