Forming the narrative of chronic pain: Visual expressions of psychosocial experience

Niamh McConaghy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article focuses upon the impact of using participant-created visual imagery and poetry to encourage a more comprehensive dialogue of the psychosocial and mental health elements of the experience of chronic pain. It explores six participants’ semi-structured interview dialogues, following two workshops and two weeks of journaling at home using the arts-based methods. Findings of this study suggest that these methods can enhance the awareness of pain-related factors and strengthen the understanding of the connection between influencing and affecting pain factors in daily life. Therapeutically, this process has encouraged positive pain behaviours, such as hope, purpose and appreciation of self, and created a more personal narrative of the reality of daily pain experience. It strengthens the argument for using combinations of arts-based outcomes to create more informative, personal and accessible methods of pain communication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-273
Number of pages273
JournalJournal of Illustration
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Aug 2020


  • arts-based methods
  • chronic pain
  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • mental health
  • pain communication
  • pain management
  • psychosocial pain
  • qualitative studies
  • art and health


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