Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Health and Human Performance (Community Health Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Health and Human Performance

Committee Chair

Dr. Annie Sondag

Commitee Members

Dr. Laura Dybdal, Matthew Hamon


story, storytelling, pain, chronic


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Bioethics and Medical Ethics | Community Health | Interprofessional Education | Medical Humanities | Movement and Mind-Body Therapies | Other Medicine and Health Sciences | Other Mental and Social Health | Other Rehabilitation and Therapy | Physical Therapy | Physiotherapy | Somatic Bodywork and Related Therapeutic Practices | Therapeutics


The purpose of this creative inquiry is to explore the relationship between story, storytelling and the experience of chronic pain. Chronic pain prevalence in the United States and globally, is continuing to rise. A corresponding opioid crisis further highlights the problem, and the need to not only recognize the depth of the chronic pain epidemic, but the need to seek treatment and management outside of pharmaceutical intervention. The research surrounding patient experiences with chronic pain, have highlighted negative interactions with the health care system as a whole, including feelings of shame or discrimination, not feeling trusted or believed, and further stigmatized when pain did not improve. The aim of this creative exploration is to give voice to persons who are experiencing chronic pain and are often disenfranchised and not fully heard; to explore the role that a person’s narrative and the telling of their own story may have on their chronic pain experience. In addition, research has shown storytelling and narrative to positively affect physical, mental, and emotional health. This project recruited adult participants that identified with the experience of chronic pain. Methods included informal interviews, narrative sharing, reflection of participants on their pain experience, and integration of story and reflection. The participants’ stories were printed and teamed with their portrait, as part of an exhibit highlighting the real stories of people in pain. The exhibit was hosted in conjunction with a live storytelling night, surrounding the experience of pain, healing, and life. The event was open to the public, with special invitation to persons experiencing chronic pain and local health care providers.

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© Copyright 2018 Amy K. Thompson