Coping Constructs Related to College Students with Chronic Pain
Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research
This phenomenological, qualitative research study involved in-depth interviews with 22 participants enrolled in a private Midwestern university. Each participant reported living with a respective chronic pain syndrome while also being a full-time student. Our semi-structured, interviews centered around the constructs of physical, social, emotional, and existential coping. Students described utilizing a variety of coping mechanisms that represented four main themes: (a) ignoring and distraction attempts by students, (b) minimizing pain's debilitating effects, (c) advantageous comparisons, and (d) attempts to find meaning in their respective pain. First, students attempted either to ignore their pain or to distract themselves from their pain by utilizing a range of approaches, from intentionally participating in an activity, to denying feelings of pain. Second, students reported either physically or psychologically trying to minimize the adverse effects of their pain. Third, students compared themselves to others who they considered in a more arduous situation than themselves in order to ameliorate their present feelings about their painful circumstances. Last, students searched for potential meanings of their respective pain in order to help them psychologically process their dysphoria in terms of advancing existential life meanings.
Chronic pain, college students, coping constructs, qualitative research
Firmin, M., Burger, A., Sherman, A., Grigsby, A., & Croft, J. (2011). Coping constructs related to college students with chronic pain. Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, 6, 32-48.