Adapting to chronic pain: A focused ethnography of black older adults

Geriatr Nurs. Jul-Aug 2020;41(4):468-473. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2019.08.001. Epub 2019 Aug 31.


This study aimed to understand the coping strategies used by a group of Black older adults to manage chronic pain. To this end, a focused ethnography was completed within a senior housing facility. Following participant observation, 106 residents completed informal interviews and surveys comprised of a demographic tool, the Brief Pain Inventory, the PROMIS Global Health scale, and the Psychological Stress Measure - 9. Further, a subset of 20 participants that reported daily pain completed formal semi-structured interviews, which were recorded and transcribed. Descriptive statistics were completed on survey data while interviews were analyzed contextually and thematically. The adaptive coping strategies used by participants to manage pain included: remaining positive, remaining active, being engaged in the community, prayer/meditation, and maintaining positive support systems. Effective coping strategies lead to compensated levels of adaptation for participants. A middle range schema of pain is presented that may guide future nursing pain management practice.

Keywords: Health behavior; Health status disparities; Minority health; Pain management.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Anthropology, Cultural*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires