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Health, pain and the social environment

Dennis, Nicola Louise (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

Since the 1970s the number of people suffering from functional somatic syndromes such as fibromyalgia has increased dramatically. These syndromes are characterised by higher levels of incapacity and disability than can be accounted for by objective medical testing. Here the possibility that socially derived labels and health information are contributing to the incapacity experienced by these patients was investigated. Investigations conducted with healthy people found that the way people perceive themselves as behaving, and whether that behaviour is labelled as healthy, influences how satisfied people are with their own health, and their health in comparison to others. It was also found that people who are labelled as unhealthy are evaluated as having less moral worth than those who are not. Further investigations found that the labels used to understand a painful sensation alter the way people respond to that sensation. Investigations with fibromyalgia patients found that the diagnostic label of fibromyalgia changes the information patients have access to, and therefore the information available to interpret their experiences. It was concluded that incapacity in functional syndromes may be partly driven by people being encouraged by to interpret their experiences in a particularly anxiety-provoking way through information in the environment.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Derbyshire, S
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Psychology
Subjects:BF Psychology
HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3025
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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