"I’m empowered to look after myself” — Mindfulness as a way to manage chronic pain: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of participant experiences in Scotland

Fathima Marikar Bawa* (Corresponding Author), Jane W Sutton, Stewart W. Mercer, Christine M Bond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background and Primary Aim: Chronic pain is a common problem that can impact on psychological and social wellbeing and activity levels. Despite pharmacological treatments, there is often a lack of improvement in physical and emotional functioning and health-related quality of life. Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular self-management technique. The aim of the study was to explore the experiences of patients with chronic pain who took part in a mindfulness programme. Methods: A mixed-methods feasibility study was carried out. Participants were aged 18 years or over with non- malignant chronic pain recruited from general medical practices in Fort William, Scotland. In 2013 participants undertook an eight-week mindfulness programme based on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and were interviewed immediately post-programme and at eight-months’ post-programme. Analysis of qualitative data involved Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Findings: Thirty-four patients consented to take part in the study; twenty-four took part in the programme (14 attended four or more sessions, 10 attended one to three). Twenty-three were interviewed. Participant experi-ences of the programme were themed under: factors affecting experience (influence of earlier life events; the process of taking part in, and of relating to, the programme); and effects of the programme (impact on emotions, mental health, adverse events and a process of change). The process of change, resulting after better under-standing the relationship between mindfulness and pain, involved learning to ‘listen to the body’, gaining a sense of community, learning to accept pain, and approaching life with more self-care, awareness, appreciation and empowerment. Conclusion: Participants reported a variety of experiences. For some, these included undergoing a process of change which may have supported them in living with their painful condition. This contributes to our under-standing of how mindfulness could benefit people with chronic pain.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114073
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume281
Early online date25 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Chronic pain
  • Mindfulness
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • Participant experiences
  • Pain management
  • Process of change
  • Pain coping

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