"It Made Me Not Want to See him…": The Role of Patient-Provider Communication in Influencing Rural-Dwelling Women Veterans' Motivation to Seek Health Care for Managing Chronic Pain

Health Commun. 2024 May;39(6):1161-1174. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2023.2207280. Epub 2023 May 10.


Despite being high health care utilizers, many women Veterans perceive their pain condition to be poorly understood by their providers, which can be a strong demotivator for seeking care. We set out to understand the priorities rural-dwelling women Veterans have for using health care for their chronic pain, and interviewed participants about their experiences with (and priorities for seeking) health care for their chronic pain. Self-Determination Theory identifies three sources of motivation (autonomy, competence, relatedness), all of which were represented through two themes that reflect rural women Veterans' rationale for decision-making to obtain health care for chronic pain: role of trust and competing priorities. Women described their priorities for chronic pain management in terms of their competing priorities for work, education, and supporting their family, but most expressed a desire to function in their daily life and relationships. Second, women discussed the role of trust in their provider as a source of motivation, and the role of patient-provider communication skills and gender played in establishing trust. Rural women Veterans often discussed core values that stemmed from facets of their identity (e.g. gender, military training, ethnicity) that also influenced their decision-making. Our findings provide insight for how providers may use Motivational Interviewing and discuss chronic pain treatment options so that rural-dwelling women Veterans feel autonomous, competent, and understood in their decision-making about their chronic pain. We also discuss importance of acknowledging the effects of disenfranchising talk and perpetuating gendered stereotypes related to chronic pain and theoretical implications of this work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain* / psychology
  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Communication*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care* / psychology
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Rural Population*
  • Trust*
  • Veterans* / psychology