A Phenomenological Analysis of Chronic Pain Self-Management
Self-management is a poorly understood concept from both the academic and patient perspectives. Within the literature it is known as a vague concept which is often mistaken for other terms such as self-care and self-help. The ambiguity surrounding self-management in academia is then transferred to patients through their physicians. Living with a debilitating, invisible condition, such as chronic pain, can force patients to self-manage their conditions. This study set out to not only to define this concept and those related to it, but also to understand the meanings persons with chronic pain ascribe to their self-management. A literature search as well as qualitative interviews were conducted to explore, with more depth, the meanings that participants associate with the phenomenon of self-managing their chronic pain. Five themes emerged from the analysis of interviews: Doctors, Getting Through the Day, Being Limited, My Hidden Burden, and What’s Next. Chronic pain proved to be a controlling factor in the lives and decisions of all participants. Overall the self-management behaviours that participants found the most useful, other than medication, were relaxing behaviours that reminded them of their childhood and families.