Christine Waters is the lead clinical nurse specialist in the Department of Pain Medicine, West Suffolk NHS Trust. This presentation is a summary of her Cardiff University MSc. Pain Management dissertation findings concerning the meaning of being believed in chronic non-malignant pain using a phenomenological approach.
Christine examines the observation that in the absence of structural findings, chronic pain continues to seem ‘unreal’ by HCP’s and lay people and that believing in a patients experience of chronic pain is:
- Highly valued by that person.
- Promotes positive thoughts and emotions
- Encourages helpful behaviours.
- Fosters improved relationships with others.
- Restores moral character (integrity)
This may be considered a vital aspect in fostering any therapeutic relationship and is essential listening for anyone involved in the management of chronic pain.
Christine’s research reports on a phenomenological study that was undertaken to elucidate the meaning of being believed for patients experiencing chronic non-malignant pain within an out-patient setting in an English district general hospital. Ethical approval for undertaking research and accessing participants was granted. The study was prompted by observations within clinical practice that highlighted the value of both listening to and believing patients’ perceptions of their pain. A literature search was unsuccessful in revealing any published research that specifically investigated this area.
Descriptive phenomenology using Husserl’s methodology was adopted (, ). The method involved conducting audio-taped unstructured interviews with eight participants with chronic-non malignant pain. Using Colaizzi’s  procedural steps of analysis, the following six theme clusters arose from the analysis of the transcripts and will be discussed under the following headings: securing a diagnosis; power of being believed; therapeutic relationships, a sense of connection with others, acceptance, and enhanced coping.
For individuals experiencing chronic non-malignant pain, the validation of their pain by others was a highly valued act associated with emotional well-being, helpful behavioural patterns, improved relationships and restoration of social status. Social influences such as the acceptance of chronic pain by an observer appears to impact upon the transition process and psychosocial adjustment experienced by individuals with chronic pain. These findings offer a deeper understanding of what being believed means to patients experiencing persistent pain and contribute further to current theories and professional knowledge.
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