The process of acceptance in older adults living with chronic pain : a qualitative study : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science (Masters) in Psychology at Massey University, Manawatu-Distance, New Zealand

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Background: Chronic pain is a prevalent condition among older adults, and older adults often endure their pain for long periods. Due to the complexities of aging, the management of chronic pain among older adults has been criticised as inadequate. By investigating the role of acceptance from a qualitative stand point, the aim was to provide further insight into understanding how older adults cope with living with chronic pain. Question: The aim of this research was to understand the process of acceptance among older adults living with chronic pain. Design: Chronic pain is reported to be a subjective and individualistic condition, and interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was the methodological approach used to focus on understanding the meaning of individual’s experiences with chronic pain. Participants: Eligible participants recruited for this study were also part of a longitudinal study Talking about Health. A total of 20 participants consented to the study and they were aged between 68-93. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, of the 20 interviews conducted 18 participants consented to having their transcripts analysed. Results: Through participants’ accounts of their pain experiences, four general themes were identified and they were: 1) different aspects to the experience of pain, 2) acceptance, 3) begrudged acceptance and 4) learning to live with pain. The general theme of acceptance was commonly described in each participant’s interview, yet there were threads of resistance that were present during participants’ accounts of their pain experiences. Conclusion: Participants’ identified different aspects of acceptance and struggles between accepting and not accepting. In particular, older adults accepted the normal occurrence of pain as part of living; yet, at the same time this acceptance could be begrudged with some participants’ resisting the idea of acceptance. Despite a begrudged acceptance, participants also described the importance of accepting their pain in order to continue to live their life. The different aspects of acceptance could have a bearing on the management of chronic pain in older adults, and clinical implications are discussed. Further research is warranted to develop more efficient and cohesive strategies to facilitate the process of acceptance among older adults living with pain.