Background Fibromyalgia is a chronic functional syndrome of unknown etiology, characterized by pain, stiffness, fatigue and stress that affect everyday life. The approaches to understanding social and cultural aspects of this illness, have been developed in some first world countries, mostly under qualitative methodological criteria, but lacking theoretical analysis. Medical Anthropology allowed exploring the sociocultural context of the disease in order to describe and analyze the beliefs about expressing getting fibromyalgia of patients and the rheumatologist.
Objectives To identify themes in the lived experience of patients with fibromyalgia related with pilgrimage, medical-patients relationship and suffering.
Methods Qualitative research focus on medical anthropology.
Setting: Public Hospital and private practice.
Methodology: Ethnographic method, with observations and depth-interviews.
Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were analyzed using an ethnographic approach and social suffering theory (1).
Results 3 men and 5 women, patients and 4 rheumatologists were interviewed. The age range was 34 to 74 years. The analysis revealed 13 theme sharing between patients and rheumatologist: beliefs about the causes, pain, body, delegitimization, diagnosis, alternative treatments, medical treatments, psychological treatment, and idea about healing, progression of symptoms, doctor-patient relationship, social consequences and social suffering.
Stigmatization in the absence of diagnosis and after of getting it, the idea of not healing, psychological aspects involved and family dynamics in which discrimination is recreated, make the experience of getting fibromyalgia a model of social suffering, embodied in the personal and social experience of live with fibromyalgia.
Conclusions The long therapeutic journey into the pilgrimage (2) determines the chronicity and with it the stigma lived by patients, especially in a public hospital. The doctor-patient relation is characterized by social rejection and by the failure of commonly established roles.
- Kleinman, A et al. (ed). (1997). Social Suffering. USA: University of California.
- Pelıez-Ballestas, I., et al. (2006). Illness trajectories in Mexican children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and their parents. Rheumatology, Nov 45(11), 1399-403
Disclosure of Interest None Declared
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