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How do patients with fibromyalgia talk about their experience of fibromyalgia?

Agyare, A. (2020). How do patients with fibromyalgia talk about their experience of fibromyalgia?. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Objective: Fibromyalgia is classified as diffuse pain in 4 of 5 bodily regions associated with emotional distress or functional disability (WHO, 2020). The diagnosis can be problematized as the syndrome has an unknown aetiology due to its associated with multiple factors and no diagnostic testing. The purpose of this research was to uncover the ways in which patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia talked about their experience of Fibromyalgia.

Design: A discourse analytic methodology was used to identify how patients who have the diagnosis in the UK construct their experience of Fibromyalgia and explored what subject positions, practices and possibilities for subjective experience are made available to them.

Method: Participants were recruited through social media using the snowballing method. Semi-structured interviews lasted one-hour (approx.) and the data was analysed using Foucauldian Discourse Analysis.

Results: Seven female participants aged between 25 and 57 identified three discourses which contributed to constructing Fibromyalgia within a biomedical, psychological and social discourse. Participants took up a medical discourse to construct themselves as an ill patient and were made to feel dismissed by their doctors who did not view them as having a medical condition which possibly left them feeling like an ill person stuck in a never-ending struggle for social recognition from others that they are ill. Drawing on a psychological discourse the participants seemed to have empowered themselves by taking up an active role in their treatment by focusing on self-management techniques to managing their symptom experiences.

Conclusion: In occupying different discourses, the participants found empowerment through being pro-active individuals which allowed them to gain access to further testing, the ability to self-manage their symptom experiences and preserve their sense of self from the negative opinions of those around them.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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