Meanings of Chronic Pain in Patient Interactions with Health Services

  • Karin Säll HanssonEmail author
  • Carina Elmqvist
  • Gunilla Lindqvist
  • Kent Stening


Chronic pain causes suffering for patients and managing chronic pain is one of the most common assignments in the health service. Health care professionals can profoundly influence the meaning patients and their families attribute to pain experience. Patients with chronic pain may feel discredited and called into question by skeptical medical professionals. Patients may have to fight to receive entitled care and to suggest suitable treatments. To contribute to medical decision-making and improved patient outcomes, health care professionals should integrate phenomenological narratives and stories about pain into health care in parallel with consulting the medical evidence. Professional care structures should not make health care professionals feel torn between meeting patient needs for existential support and the demand of meeting high clinical work-loads. Narratives and stories can provide shared structures that allow patients and medical professionals to make decisions that feel meaningful, accurate, and clear. Many patients use psychological strategies in their everyday lives in order to live meaningfully with persistent pain; but, this is not enough. Healthcare professionals need “dare to open up and accept personal and deep conversations with patients” about their pain experiences and the lived consequences of persistent pain.


Emergency Department Chronic Pain Registered Nurse Clinical Encounter Chronic Pain Patient 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin Säll Hansson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carina Elmqvist
    • 1
  • Gunilla Lindqvist
    • 1
  • Kent Stening
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Health and Caring SciencesLinnaeus UniversityVäxjöSweden

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