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When Harry met Barry, and other stories: a partner's influence on relationships in back pain care

This study forms part of a longitudinal investigation of pain, disability and health care use in primary care low back pain consulters. Sixteen purposively sampled patients and their health care professionals were interviewed about experiences with back pain and their therapeutic relationships. This case study draws on the accounts of one patient, his wife, and three health care professionals and explores the role of the informal carer in back pain care. The interview with the patient and his wife highlights the dynamics of a co-constructed narrative of back pain. The joint narrative is fundamentally supportive of the patient's condition, yet his wife's preference for a proactive approach to health care is undermined by the patient's unquestioning respect for health professionals. In addition, the patient's limited expression—of his suffering and his feelings regarding care received—results in less beneficial care where opportunities remain unfulfilled and problems unresolved. His wife's role as narrator of his pain provokes different reactions from health professionals and these are discussed. Analysis reveals a positive and mediating role for informal carers within the provision of health care. However, the construction of the patient's limited expression in opposition to his wife as an ‘expert carer’ raises issues around these roles in the therapeutic encounter that require further exploration. To use supportive relationships effectively there is a need to better understand the interplay between the patient and carer roles, how these roles are negotiated in the health care consultation, and the possible contradictions that this poses.

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Additional Titles
Anthropology & Medicine

Key Information

Type of Reference
Resource Database
Cin20 cinahl - exported on 11/7/2016
Publication Year
Issue Number
Volume Number
Start Page
47-60 14p