When people experience chronic pain it can make them feel isolated. They think others don’t understand, and they are constantly having to try and explain the situation. Many adolescents who experience chronic pain feel like this, longing to interact with others their age who are going through something similar. One recent study sheds light on the idea that forming a peer support group for this population may be beneficial.
The study is published in the March 2023 issue of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology . Researchers set out to see how adolescents who have chronic pain feel about peer support, among those who have chronic pain and those who do not. There were 14 adolescents between the ages of 12-17 who participated in the study. They each
participated in a virtual interview, sharing their experience and answering questions.
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The researchers found that adolescents with chronic pain feel misunderstood and under-supported by their peers who do not have chronic pain. They tend to feel like their peers without chronic pain do not understand what they are going through, and they always have to explain it. This tends to make them feel like an outsider because they don’t have anyone to share that experience with that understands what it is like.
The research also shows that adolescents with chronic pain may benefit from being in a peer support group with others experiencing the same. Having a peer support group that is made up of all adolescents who have chronic pain will help them to feel more
understood and less like an outsider. It will allow them to socialize with and share their experiences with others who know what it’s like to live with chronic pain. They can also provide each other with support, suggestions, understanding, etc.
Parents who have adolescents who have chronic pain and those who help them manage may want to suggest a peer support group for them. Inquire with local pain centers to see if there are any already in the area so that the adolescent can join in. If there are none, speak to them about getting one started. Starting an adolescent peer support group for those with chronic pain is a simple thing to do, but it could bring about meaningful changes for those who attend.
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- Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Perceptions of Adolescents with Chronic Pain About Peer Support. March 2023.