Publication of the week: Dr Katherine Finlay

15 June 2017

Finlay, K.A. & J. Elander, “Reflecting the transition from pain management services to chronic pain support group attendance: An interpretative phenomenological analysis”, British Journal of Health Psychology 21.3 (Sep 2016), 660-676.  DOI: 10.1111/bjhp.12194.

This study aimed to investigate the decision-making processes involved in the choice to attend a chronic pain support group (CPSG) following discharge from a Pain Management Programme. An in-depth, qualitative analysis was undertaken using interpretative phenomenological analysis, exploring participants’ subjective experiences, decision-making, and rationale for initial CPSG attendance.

Social support and associated friendships are attractive to prospective CPSG members and are conceptualised as opportunities to engage in social comparison and nurture self-care. The first visit to the support group presents a significant hurdle, but can be facilitated by managing the transition between therapeutic care and CPSG attendance. Clinicians can challenge preconceptions, foster positive viewpoints regarding the group and support collective decision-making to attend. Following initial attendance, psychosocial well-being was enhanced.

Participants are predominantly attracted to support groups due to the opportunity to develop new friendships. Health-related peer groups function as fora for social comparison, enhancing self-esteem and self-efficacy. Experience of pain management programmes primes willingness to attend support groups. The initial decision to attend is difficult but facilitated by collective, group decision-making processes. Health care professionals dynamically prime the transition towards peer support structures.

Read more on the NCBI website.

Dr Katherine Finlay is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Buckingham. Her work centres around her interests in clinical and health-related research, particularly in chronic pain and pain following spinal cord injuries. Katherine also publishes regularly in music psychology, and is a regular reviewer for the British Journal of Health Psychology and Psychology of Music.