Adjustment and acceptance of chronic pain: The lived experience of adults 30 to 39 years of age
Chresfield, Raeshawn, Rae
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This study used a mixed methods design to investigate the lived experience of adults, 30 to 39 years of age living with non-cancer related chronic pain. Qualitative interview questions inquired into how pain influenced various aspects of life. Seven themes emerged from across all participants regarding life with pain: Unpredictable Pain, Negative Medical Encounters, Changes to Self, Depression, Aloneness, Judgment, and Others Don’t Understand. Also, three subthemes were developed from a smaller subset of the participants: Suicidality, Search for Answers, and Hard to Remember. Participants provided their definitions for acceptance and adjustment for comparison against the literature. Participants also identify their priorities and needs since so little is known about this population. Quantitative measures evaluated acceptance of chronic pain, adjustment to disability, pain levels, perceived stress, and quality of life. Mixed methods results revealed that although women reported having higher scores in stress and pain, they also reported having better acceptance and adjustment because they were motivated by their desire to be available for their children and good mothers. Men reported lower quality of life, acceptance, and adjustment as a result of the pain threatening their employment. Those who received psychological interventions for pain had poorer outcomes based on the belief that they were being dismissed by the medical community and their pain had been deemed imaginary. There were no gender differences between all variables. The mixed methods results provided deeper insight into how unpredictable pain shaped this population’s opinions of themselves, their interactions with others, and identified their priorities and needs. Participants provided their definitions for acceptance and adjustment indicating that although they had not given up the desire to be rid of the pain, results indicated moderate levels of both acceptance and adjustment to disability. The findings provided support for a more holistic approach to assisting people with pain that included social, vocational, and gender-specific concerns to increase adjustment and acceptance.