Older people's experiences of cancer pain: a qualitative study
Evidence & Practice    

Older people's experiences of cancer pain: a qualitative study

Margaret Dunham Senior lecturer in nursing and pain management, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, England
Peter Allmark Principal research fellow, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, England
Karen Collins Professor of health services research, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, England

To consider how the older person constructs the experience of cancer pain and how this is informed by expectations and experiences.


Nine older people with cancer were asked to keep diaries and subsequently interviewed about their experiences of living with cancer and pain.


Five themes were identified – better to be old than to be dying with cancer, maintaining control and independence, loss of identity in adapting and grieving for a former self, dislike of analgesia and denial of pain. The themes give a perspective on the embodied meaning of ‘pain’ in daily life.


Clinical pain assessment alone, without listening to people's pain stories, does not always identify pain or problems with daily living. Appreciation of the individuality of the lived experience of cancer can advance our understanding of pain and end of life care.

Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2017.e943



Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Received: 12 April 2017

Accepted: 16 May 2017

Published online: 16 June 2017

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