The potential benefits of applying a narrative analytic approach for understanding the experience of fibromyalgia: a review

Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(13):1121-30. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2011.628742. Epub 2011 Nov 11.


Purpose: People with fibromyalgia (FM), a medically unexplained illness, habitually experience widespread pain and fatigue. While some qualitative research has aimed to understand the experiences of people with FM, studies from a specific narrative perspective are particularly lacking. This review argues that future research could be significantly enhanced by studies which analyse the narratives of people with FM.

Method: This argument is made through reference to an examination of the extant qualitative literature on the experience of FM and theories and narrative studies on chronic illnesses and identity.

Results: The empirical literature is reviewed from a narrative perspective; this assumes that the stories people tell reveal much about their identities and social worlds. As such, it is proposed that narrative analysis is particularly well suited for exploring issues of self and culture and for appreciating how meanings evolve over time. Further, it is also argued that consideration of these issues is particularly relevant for understanding the experience of FM given the enigmatic nature of the syndrome and its chronic course.

Conclusions: The review concludes by emphasizing that narrative analysis is a valuable method which offers the potential for uncovering novel insights about the illness experience for these individuals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Comprehension
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Narration*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Concept