'Nobody likes a back bore'--exploring lay perspectives of chronic pain: revealing the hidden voices of nonservice users

Scand J Caring Sci. 2008 Sep;22(3):383-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2007.00541.x.


Chronic pain is pain that persists beyond 12 weeks or that lasts beyond the expected duration of healing. The chronic pain sufferer also often experiences associated anxiety, depression and stress. An exploratory qualitative approach was adopted by the authors to explore what it is like to live with chronic pain from a sample of people who had not accessed secondary or tertiary health services. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken utilizing a 'snowball' sample of 12 participants. The complex issues presented by living with chronic pain that face sufferers in their personal and social worlds emerged from participant narratives. Three main themes which reflected individual variation in the ways that participants' had adapted to their pain were extracted from the data: dependence and social withdrawal; being 'normal' in comparison to others; and striving for self-management. Issues of coping and control were related to the theme of self-management. By capturing the voices of a previously unheard group our findings support and extend previous research by detailing the difficulties that need to be overcome by sufferers to finally accept the persistence of their pain. Moreover, it is this acceptance of, and adaptation to their pain, that may distinguish the participants in our sample from the majority of pain sufferers who engage and re-engage with secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*