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“I feel so stupid because I can’t give a proper answer...” How older adults describe chronic pain: A qualitative study

“I feel so stupid because I can’t give a proper answer...” How older adults describe chronic pain: A qualitative study

Clarke, Amanda, Anthony, Geraldine, Gray, Denise, Jones, Derek, McNamee, Paul, Schofield, Patricia, Smith, Blair H. and Martin, Denis (2012) “I feel so stupid because I can’t give a proper answer...” How older adults describe chronic pain: A qualitative study. BMC Geriatrics, 12:78. ISSN 1471-2318 (doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-78)

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Abstract

Background:
Over 50% of older adults experience chronic pain. Poorly managed pain threatens independent functioning, limits social activities and detrimentally affects emotional wellbeing. Yet, chronic pain is not fully understood from older adults’ perspectives; subsequently, pain management in later life is not necessarily based on their priorities or needs. This paper reports a qualitative exploration of older adults’ accounts of living with chronic pain, focusing on how they describe pain, with a view to informing approaches to its assessment.
Methods:
Cognitively intact men and women aged over sixty-five who lived in the community opted into the study through responding to advertisements in the media and via contacts with groups and organisations in North-East Scotland. Interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed using a framework approach.
Results:
Qualitative individual interviews and one group interview were undertaken with 23 older adults. Following analysis, the following main themes emerged: diversity in conceptualising pain using a simple numerical score; personalising the meaning of pain by way of stories,
similes and metaphors; and, contextualising pain in relation to its impact on activities.
Conclusions:
The importance of attending to individuals’ stories as a meaningful way of describing pain for older adults is highlighted, suggesting that a narrative approach, as recommended and researched in other areas of medicine, may usefully be applied in pain assessment for older adults. Along with the judicious use of numerical tools, this requires innovative methods to elicit verbal accounts, such as using similes and metaphors to help older adults describe and discuss their experience, and contextualising the effects of pain on activities that are important to them.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: older adults, ageing, qualitative research, stories, metaphors, chronic pain, community
Subjects: R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Health & Social Care > Department of Acute & Continuing Care
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2016 14:18
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/9461

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