Objective: The aim of the present study was to analyze how experiences of peer support were described and reflected upon several years after a group rehabilitation intervention. Moreover, we wanted to learn more about what meanings were ascribed to peer support in the narratives of women with a long history of fibromyalgia.
Method: This was a qualitative study in which narrative life story interviews of 20 women with fibromyalgia were collected and analyzed to elicit the impact of peer support in their lives.
Results: We identified four main domains of experienced peer support:
• Permission to talk,
• Need of information,
• Reciprocity, and
• Self-evaluation through comparison.
The meanings ascribed to peer support were mainly positive, although the participants also expressed thoughts about fear of future, hopelessness and mental health issues.
Conclusions: Long-term fibromyalgia patients saw peer support as an impetus to an ongoing process of reconstruction of identity, illness acceptance and coping with fibromyalgia.
Practice Implications: In addition to updating their knowledge about fibromyalgia and its treatment, long term patients may need arenas where they can share and compare their experiences to those of other patients with a long history of fibromyalgia.
Source: Patient Education and Counseling, Mar 17, 2011. PMID: 21419588, by Sallinen M, Kukkurainen ML, Peltokallio L. Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Pori, Finland.