2019 Annual Conference: Building Better Psychological Future: How army veterans cope with chronic pain

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

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Objectives: To understand how Army veterans manage their chronic pain.
Design: A qualitative approach, using semi-structured interviews and grounded theory, was taken during the study.
Methods: Army veterans were recruited via social media, three military charities and personal contacts. Participants were included if they were between 18-70, had been discharged from the Army for at least six months, and had experienced pain for at least three months. Pain which began pre Army service and PTSD sufferers were excluded. All interviews were transcribed verbatim. Data was stored in NVivo for analysis. A grounded theory approach to analysis was taken to establish themes, and a possible theory to account for chronic pain management.
Results: Seven participants were interviewed (male-6, mean age-46.0yrs, mean service-17.71yrs, mean pain-9.14yrs, pain sites-7, multiple pain sites-71%). Analysis identified five sub-themes and one overarching core theme. Sub-themes were emotional response, active verses avoidant, ambivalence to help from others, personal knowledge of pain/body and time. The core theme related to personal experience. All sub-themes apart from time feed in and out of experience, so experience and these four themes appear to be in a loop. The sub-theme of time was unidirectional (forward). Whilst veterans did reflect backwards, they continually moved forward with pain management. Ultimately, experience changed over time, and experience incorporated civilian coping styles (e.g. some became positive help-seekers).
Conclusions: Generally, veterans effectively manage pain. Most draw on a blend of military-civilian experiences, but this blend may not be equal. Pain coping is person specific and not veteran specific.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 12 Apr 2019


  • Veterans
  • Chronic pain
  • Grounded theory
  • Coping


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