Now let me tell you in my own words: narratives of acute and chronic low back pain

Disabil Rehabil. 2009;31(12):976-87. doi: 10.1080/09638280802378017.


Purpose: In the past, qualitative studies have focused on chronic low back pain (LBP), yet 90% of LBP is acute and episodic. The purpose of this study was to examine the broader experience (acute as well chronic) of LBP in the community.

Methods: This study was part of a Personal Project Analysis of adaptation to LBP. Participants answered an open-ended question that invited them to tell researchers about their LBP. The narratives were analysed using thematic content analysis and structure was analysed using the narrative types described in 'The Wounded Storyteller' (Frank A. The Wounded Story Teller: Body, Illness and Ethics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 1995).

Findings: Two themes were identified: (1) the challenges to the authenticity of LBP and (2) the consequences of living with LBP, which had two threads: the disruption of life due to physical limitations, and the emotional distress incurred. The narratives were solely told as chaos narratives.

Conclusions: The emotional and behavioural responses of individuals with LBP and the tensions that exist between the individual and others, especially healthcare providers, is explained in the context of LBP as a moral event. Understanding the narratives as chaos narratives provides insight into ways to improve the quality of the interactions between patients and health care providers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / psychology*
  • Middle Aged