Background and objectives: What do women patients, sick-listed for biomedically undefined musculoskeletal disorders, expect and experience when they consult a doctor? With the purpose to learn more about this, a qualitative interview study was conducted.
Methods: Twenty women participated. They were patients at an urban health care centre in northern Sweden. Data were gained through repeated, semi-structured interviews, and analysed according to grounded theory.
Results: The participants described an atmosphere of distrust in the consultation. They had felt ignored, disregarded and rejected by doctors, and had worked out strategies to keep up medical attention in their search for a creditable diagnosis. They were somatizing, claiming under cover, and pleading, to catch the doctor's interest. In addition, they upheld their self-respect by mystifying and martyrizing themselves and their symptoms, and by condemning physicians as ignorant.
Discussion: The patient's consultation experiences are discussed from different aspects; the biomedical framework, the power asymmetry, and the gendered positions of patient and doctor. The findings indicate the importance of making doctors aware of the context behind frustrations in doctor-patient interaction.