The Influence of Chronic Pain on the Daily Lives of Underprivileged South Africans

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Abstract

Chronic pain is a major public health problem that changes lives and has devastating consequences for the person experiencing the pain, the family, and society. Living with chronic pain is not easy, especially in South Africa where the public health care system, serving 80% of the population, fails people suffering from chronic pain. The purpose of the study was to explore how experiencing chronic pain influenced the daily lives of underprivileged patients receiving nursing care at the palliative care clinic serving a resource-poor community in Tshwane, South Africa. A qualitative descriptive phenomenologic design was selected for the study. Nine purposively selected community members, registered as patients at the palliative care clinic and who suffered chronic pain, participated in the study. In-depth interviews were conducted and Tesch's coding process was used to analyze the data. Data gathering and analysis were done concurrently to determine data saturation. Four themes arose from the data: pain as a multidimensional experience, the influence of pain on physical activities, the psychosocial influence of pain, and the influence of pain on spirituality. Participants' experience of pain tells of severe suffering that hindered them in performing activities of daily living. Participants were confronted with total pain and were caught in a vicious circle where pain was responsible for severe suffering and their suffering added to their pain. However, strong religious beliefs improved pain and gave hope for the future.

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