Background: 15-35% of adolescents and young adults (AYA) worldwide are suffering from persistent or chronic pain conditions. The pain experience is a complex interaction between biological, sociocultural, and psychological factors. Self-reported pain increases with age, and may lead to increased use of pain relievers as over-the-counter analgesics, sleep problems, stress and school dropout.
Objectives:To identify and synthesise evidence from qualitative primary studies on how AYA’s experience living with everyday pain. Everyday pain is defined as persistent, recurrent or episodic pain in any body site, not associated with cancer or similar life-threatening malignant disease.
Methods:This qualitative metasynthesis was informed by the Joanna Briggs Institute’s guidelines and Sandelowski and Barroso’s guidelines for synthesising qualitative research. The electronic databases Medline (OVID), CINAHL (OVID), PsycINFO (OVID), EMBASE (OVID), Google Scholar, MedNar and ProQuest were searched for studies published between 1 January 2005 and 1 February 2017. Forward and backward citations were conducted in Psycinfo (OVID) and Medline (OVID), ISI WOS, Scopus, CINAHL and Google Scholar. Inclusion criterions were studies published in English or Nordic languages describing adolescents’ and young adults’ (13-24 years) first-hand experiences of living with everyday pain regardless of gender, ethnicity or country of origin. Critical appraisal, data extraction and data synthesis were carried out according to existing guidelines for conducting qualitative metasynthesis.
Results:Of the 916 records screened, 9 studies n= 184 (female n=127 and male n=57) were included. Three main themes characterised AYAs experiences of living with everyday pain: 1) My body is in pain - struggling to be acknowledged and believed; 2) Exploring sources of information to manage everyday pain; and, 3) Medication and analgesics as a source being relieved from pain.
Conclusions:Adolescents and young adults tried to manage their pain by searching for information and ways to relieve their pain, while at the same time struggling with distrust and lack of acknowledgement of their pain experiences.