Social support for women with chronic pelvic pain
Social support has been shown to reduce the effects of stress and help individuals to cope. However, research suggests that the effects of social support depend on whether there is a match between the type of support offered and the needs of a particular situation, and from whom the support is offered. The aim of this study as a whole was to examine the social support experiences particular to women who are faced with the distressing problem of chronic pelvic pain (CPP). The literature review (chapter one) revealed that although pain is defined as a subjective experience, research in this field has rarely been concerned with the experience of CPP from the perspective of the women who suffer it. The first study (chapter two) therefore aimed to gain a detailed description of social support transactions as experienced by women with CPP. Eight women with CPP were interviewed about what has been helpful and unhelpful in terms of social support from their partners, families, friends, acquaintances, doctors, nurses and other women with CPP. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) of interview transcripts revealed both helpful and unhelpful efforts at support from the various support providers. Findings are discussed in relation to extant literature and in terms of their clinical implications. The second study (chapter three) was concerned specifically with social support from partners. Standardised measures of pain experience, social support and psychological well being were administered to 29 women with CPP. Correlational analysis revealed significant associations between particular perceptions of partner support behaviours and depression and pain severity. Finally, the research review (chapter four) reflects on the extent to which this research project fulfils evolving criteria for the assessment of qualitative research.