An Exploration of the Impact of Social Constructs on Occupational Therapists Conceptualisations of Chronic Pain
(2013) An Exploration of the Impact of Social Constructs on Occupational Therapists Conceptualisations of Chronic Pain, no. 65.
Social constructionism is a theory that suggests knowledge and reality are constructed by collective beliefs within society and reinforced through the socialisation of future populations. The author stands in support of social constructionism, but is aware it is criticised as an ideology debated usually within academic circles that is largely irrelevant to practice. In response to these criticisms the author holds an interest in the practical application of social constructionist theory to the art of occupational therapy and furthermore to the idea that socially constructed beliefs or 'social constructs' are the embodiment of understanding this application. A social construct is a concept, way of knowing knowledge or defining reality that is constructed by a society such as the one to which this study refers. In the case of this review, the society is occupational therapists working with people experiencing chronic pain and the social constructs being investigated are: the influence of paradigm on the therapists understanding of and treatment of chronic pain; the impact of taken-for-granted knowledge on therapists beliefs about treatment; the impact that the therapists conceptualisation of chronic pain has on the experience for the patient through their interactions; the impact of power on the patient's experience of chronic pain and the impact that discourse and the language used with respect to chronic pain has on both the therapist, the patient and their relationship. To investigate these areas of interest, a literature search was undertaken, a description of which is provided in section 2.1. In sections 2.2 to 2.4 the literature will be reviewed commencing with a definition of social constructionism, the theory informing the idea of social constructs. Section 2 will end with considering the limitations of social constructionism and providing a conclusion before leading to an explanation of the proposed research justified by the review in section 3. Section 3 proposes a grounded theory study using theoretical sampling and unstructured interviews to collect data. Furthermore, it will use coding and constant comparison of the data to analyse it and assist gaining a greater understanding of the conceptualisations held by occupational therapists regarding chronic pain across Scotland. This will allow in depth investigation of the variety of understandings and highlight any relationships between them offering alternatives for therapists finding the current paradigmatic explanation does not suit their client and is therefore either potentially exacerbating the experience of chronic pain, limiting the opportunity to foster collaboration and true client-centred practice or discouraging people from accepting treatments that would be helpful due to the stigma they believe is attached.