Suffering, recognition and reframing: Healthcare choices and plural care pathways for women with chronic back pain

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Journal Article
Current Sociology, 2015, 63 (5), pp. 652 - 668
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© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015. Chronic back pain is a major health and social problem in Australia, often concealed and given limited credibility vis-a-vis other health conditions. Care practices are diversified with allied health, biomedical and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners regularly being consulted for help and care, often concurrently. While this differentiated ‘healthcare market’ may on one level be viewed as positive in terms of diverse therapeutic choices, there is also potential for difficulties with regard to care practices and negotiating competing therapeutic modalities. Drawing on qualitative interviews with 50 women aged 60–65 from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health living with chronic back pain, this article explores their accounts of suffering and the experiences of engaging in pluralistic healthcare choices, with a particular focus on CAM. The findings reveal the ways by which healthcare pluralism is connected to the dynamics of suffering and relations of recognition.
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