“If you look at me, you would think that I am a normal woman. However, I am almost like a pharmacy.” : a phenomenological study of nine immigrant women’s life experiences and understanding of chronic musculoskeletal pain


Publication date



Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus. Fakultet for samfunnsfag

Document type


Master in International Social Welfare and Health Policy


This study utilized a phenomenological hermeneutical approach exploring the illness beliefs and the lived experiences of nine non-Western immigrant women with chronic pain living in Oslo, Norway. The background for this focus is the reported higher prevalence of chronic pain and psychosomatic complaints among certain non-Western immigrant groups compared with the majority population. The lived experiences of chronic pain have been extensively studied, but there is a lack of knowledge including the perspective of immigrants. Thus, the aim of the project was to develop rich data in order to develop knowledge of non-Western immigrant women perceptions and lived experience of chronic pain. Empirical data was collected through semi-structured interviews with nine non-Western immigrant women from 6 different nationalities. The study identify that the informants applied a variety of explanatory models for their pain condition including biomedical, psychosocial and traditional approaches of bodily imbalance. However, the biomedical approach was dominating in particular in relation to the search for a diagnosis with the medical physician. The data concerning the lived experience of chronic pain involved perceived strains and stress in daily life, not necessary focusing on the impact of chronic pain, but merely including challenges the informants face as immigrants. These challenges included issues relating to worries for children, little social network and support and financial strains. I interpreted these experiences as being embodied in the informants’ bodies and shown in their physical pain symptoms.


Permanent URL (for citation purposes)

  • http://hdl.handle.net/10642/1714