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Research Article  |   May 2007
Chronic Pain and Occupation: An Exploration of the Lived Experience
Author Affiliations
  • Grace S. Fisher, EdD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy Department, College Misericordia, 301 Lake Street, Dallas, PA 18612; gfisher@misericordia.edu
  • Linda Emerson, MS, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, Handicapped Children's Association, Johnson City, NY. At the time of this study, she was Graduate Student, College Misericordia, Dallas, PA
  • Camille Firpo, MS, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, Tier Occupational Therapy Services, Hallstead, PA. At the time of this study, she was Graduate Student, College Misericordia
  • Jan Ptak, MS, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, Secondary School Program, Orange–Ulster Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Goshen, NY. At the time of this study, she was Graduate Student, College Misericordia
  • Jennifer Wonn, MS, OTR/L, LMP, is Occupational Therapist, Aegis Therapies, York Terrace Nursing Center, Pottsville, PA. At the time of this study, she was Graduate Student, College Misericordia
  • Gwen Bartolacci, OTD, OTR/L, is Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy Department, College Misericordia
Article Information
Lived Experiences of Adults With Physical Dysfunction
Research Article   |   May 2007
Chronic Pain and Occupation: An Exploration of the Lived Experience
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, May/June 2007, Vol. 61, 290-302. doi:10.5014/ajot.61.3.290
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, May/June 2007, Vol. 61, 290-302. doi:10.5014/ajot.61.3.290
Abstract

OBJECTIVE. There is limited research on the relationship between chronic pain and occupation. This phenomenological research study explored the lived occupational experiences of people who have chronic pain.

METHOD. Via demographic questionnaires, semistructured interviews, and field notes, data were collected on 13 participants with various types of pain.

RESULTS. Thematic analysis yielded one main theme: “Chronic Pain Is Life Changing.” The following subthemes also emerged: “Chronic Pain Triggers Emotional Distress”; “Chronic Pain Reveals the Strength of Relationships”; “Chronic Pain and Occupation Are Reciprocally Related Forces”; and “Chronic Pain Elicits Innovative Adaptive Responses.” Study participants reported experiencing myriad troubling emotions; however, they resourcefully modified their routines and tasks and found enhanced meaning in favored occupations.

CONCLUSIONS. This study illuminates the importance of therapeutic listening, the innovativeness of people who have chronic pain, and the possible therapeutic potential of occupation.