Scand J Caring Sci; 2011; 25; 444–450
The meaning of the experiences of persons with chronic pain in their encounters with the health service
Chronic pain causes great suffering for those affected and treating it is one of the most common assignments in the health service. The aim of the study was to investigate the meaning of the experiences of persons with chronic pain in their encounters with health service staff. The study had a descriptive design with a phenomenological approach based on the perspective of caring science. Interviews were carried out with eight patients. The study showed that patients experienced a positive approach and that the staff had understood the serious nature of the situation. A positive approach can communicate hope and help to strengthen the patient. It is important to ask the patient about how he/she experiences his/her situation and thus gain an insight into this person’s lifeworld. Participation entailed being active oneself and calling attention to one’s needs and wishes for treatment. The study also showed that a negative approach by the staff played a prominent part in their experiences and appeared to be engraved in their memories. A negative approach is felt as being insulting and belittling. Patients with chronic pain felt that they were discredited and that their experience of their situation was called into question. They had to fight to get care and had to suggest treatments and examinations. There were also patients who had neither been asked about their pain experience nor had the opportunity to assess their pain with an assessment scale. Some of the phases in Travelbee’s relationship model could be seen in several of the encounters but not all. The participants did not always feel that the manner of the nursing staff was empathetic or sympathetic, which led to greater suffering.