Health, pain and the social environment

Dennis, Nicola Louise (2011). Health, pain and the social environment. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


Download (2MB)


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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year