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Title: Painting pain: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of representations of living with chronic pain
Authors: Kirkham, JA
Smith, JA
Havsteen-Franklin, D
Keywords: Pain;Pictorial representation;Interpretative phenomenological analysis;Qualitative
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Citation: Health Psychology
Abstract: Objective: This study examines patients’ pictorial representations of their chronic pain, alongside their accounts of those images, in order to help our understanding of their lived experience of the condition. Method: The sample comprises seven women in middle adulthood from southern England. They began by drawing what their pain felt like and were then interviewed about their portrayals. The interviews were analyzed with interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results: The participants produce strong, vivid, abstract pictures. In many of the pictures, the pain is objectified as punitive and sinister. This is enhanced through the use of stark colours of red and black. Paintings also often have a temporal element, showing either the movement from self before pain to self since the pain had started, or pointing to aspirations for the possible relief of pain in the future. The analysis of the images is grounded in the participants’ accounts of them. Conclusion: The images and accounts provide a powerful insight into the internal world of the pain sufferer and the subjective experience of chronic pain. We link this work to other attempts to represent patients’ pain and point to the particular contribution our work makes. We make some suggestions for subsequent research following on from what is presented here and we also argue that the methodology outlined in the paper offers considerable potential for research on other health conditions.
ISSN: 0278-6133
Appears in Collections:Dept of Arts and Humanities Research Papers

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