Revising the negative meaning of chronic pain - A phenomenological study

Chronic Illn. 2015 Jun;11(2):156-67. doi: 10.1177/1742395314555236. Epub 2014 Oct 20.


Objectives: Chronic pain may disable the body, depress the mind and ruin the quality of life. The aim of this study was to use the participants' personal experiences to explore the meaning of the experience of chronic pain and to find successful ways to manage chronic pain.

Methods: Thirty-four participants with chronic pain were interviewed. The transcribed interviews were analysed using Giorgi's phenomenological method consisting of four phases: (1) reading the transcriptions several times, (2) discriminating meaning units, (3) collecting meaning units into groups and (4) the synthesis.

Results: The participants stated that the key to managing chronic pain was to reconsider the individual meaning of the experience of pain. As a result of the interviews, seven subthemes were found based on the 'Negativity of chronic pain', namely, 'State of reflection', 'Reconsidering values', 'Acceptance of pain', 'Support network', 'Altered self', 'Joys in life' and 'Pain dissociation'.

Conclusions: Pain is an aversive sensation, which leads to the conclusion that the meaning of the experience is also negative, but it can be reversed. In clinical practice, the focus should be on revising the subjective meaning of pain in order to manage pain and to restore positivity in personal life.

Keywords: Chronic pain; life change events; quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life / psychology