"I am allowed to be myself": women with chronic muscular pain being recognized

Scand J Public Health. 2002;30(4):281-7. doi: 10.1080/14034940210133960.


Aims: Since 1992, the authors have completed 11 treatment groups for women with chronic muscular pain. The programme includes movement training and group discussions. Qualitative data indicate that the participants valued the experience of being recognized in the groups as a crucial and beneficial effect of the treatment. In the present article, this finding is examined in more detail by studying the types of action and interaction that the women considered to have benefited from by participating in group treatment.

Methods: Data are drawn from an action research project and the material originates from three treatment groups where 24 participants completed the programme. Qualitative data originating from five focus group interviews are analysed using Giorgi's principles of phenomenological analysis.

Results: The women described different concrete aspects of interaction and awareness illustrating psychologist Løvlie Schibbye's theoretical perspectives of a recognizing attitude: listening, understanding, acceptance, tolerance, and confirmation. The women tell how they themselves have experienced these expressions of recognition from other group members and from the group leaders.

Conclusions: The women confirmed that recognition had an important effect on how much they benefited from the treatment programme. The need for mutual recognition draws attention to the power and possible abuse of power inherent in human relationships, as exemplified by the relationship between the patient and healthcare providers. An explicit presentation of the human and moral value behind the treatment programme represents a challenge.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Diseases / psychology*
  • Muscular Diseases / therapy*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Management*
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods*
  • Social Behavior