Influence of communal and private folklore on bringing meaning to the experience of persistent pain

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Nurse Researcher




School of Nursing and Midwifery




Hendricks, J. M. (2015). Influence of communal and private folklore on bringing meaning to the experience of persistent pain. Nurse Researcher, 23(2), 22-29. Available here


Aim: To provide an overview of the relevance and strengths of using the literary folkloristic methodology to explore the ways in which people with persistent pain relate to and make sense of their experiences through narrative accounts. Background: Storytelling is a conversation with a purpose. The reciprocal bond between researcher and storyteller enables the examination of the meaning of experiences. Life narratives, in the context of wider traditional and communal folklore, can be analysed to discover how people make sense of their circumstances. Data sources: This paper draws from the experience of the author, who has previously used this narrative approach. It is a reflection of how the approach may be used to understand those experiencing persistent pain without a consensual diagnosis. Review methods: Using an integrative method, peer-reviewed research and discussion papers published between January 1990 and December 2014 and listed in the CINAHL, Science Direct, PsycINFO and Google Scholar databases were reviewed. In addition, texts that addressed research methodologies such as literary folkloristic methodology and Marxist literary theory were used. Discussion: The unique role that nurses play in managing pain is couched in the historical and cultural context of nursing. Literary folkloristic methodology offers an opportunity to gain a better understanding and appreciation of how the experience of pain is constructed and to connect with sufferers. Conclusion: Literary folkloristic methodology reveals that those with persistent pain are often rendered powerless to live their lives. Increasing awareness of how this experience is constructed and maintained also allows an understanding of societal influences on nursing practice. Implications for practice/research: Nurse researchers try to understand experiences in light of specific situations. Literary folkloristic methodology can enable them to understand the inter-relationship between people in persistent pain and how they construct their experiences.



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