P a g e | 2 AIMS & BACKGROUND Background - ‘Sickness calls forth stories’ When people are ill or in pain, they make sense of this experience by telling other people stories about what has happened. Through these stories people create a sense of who they are and how they want others to judge them . People tell stories to reinforce a sense of self that is threatened by pain and illness. Our stories aim to persuade or compel people to act on our behalf. Part of the work of a healthcare professional is to listen to people‟s accounts, to understand the significance of pain in their life and to ask themselves why a story is being told in this way. Modern biomedicine creates a danger that healthcare professionals are removed from their patients‟ personal experiences by stripping away stories and focusing on diagnosis. ‘The impulse to roll up our sleeves and do something is irresistible and . . . attentive listening does not feel enough like clinical action’  page 199 Charon urges us to be vigilant to the hint of a story in patients‟ accounts as this information it critical to healing . • Stories help patients to make sense of what is happening, • Stories allow patients to hold onto a sense of self in the face of illness, • Stories summon a sense of responsibility and duty to act. Qualitative research – what does it do? Personal accounts of experience through storytelling or „narrative‟ are an important ingredient of qualitative research. 1. Qualitative research provides a strong drive towards patient-centred care and humanistic care by showing others what it is like to live with pain. Qualitative knowledge counteracts the risk of reducing patients to their constituent body parts. 2. Qualitative research ensures that patient voices are heard and can thus influence policy, practice and public opinion. 3. Qualitative research can make an important contribution to shared-decision making in healthcare, and can thus have a direct effect on healthcare outcomes. There is a wealth of qualitative knowledge published that explores people‟s experience of living with pain. This resource has been developed for stakeholders in policy, practice and education who think that it is important that this knowledge forms a key part of a clinicians‟ education.
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