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Adaptive frameworks of chronic pain: daily remakings of pain and care at a Somali refugee women’s health centre
  1. Kari Campeau
  1. Department of Writing Studies, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to Kari Campeau, Department of Writing Studies, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA; campeau{at}


Pain is an intensely subjective experience and one that is difficult for healthcare professionals to treat. Chronic pain, often diffuse, cyclical and involving many systems of the body, is often not well treated in a medical system that relies on discrete symptoms, identifiable causes, external pathogens and physician specialisation. Pain has its own problems specific to Somali diaspora populations, where chronic pain is prevalent but often undertreated, and where Somali patients face barriers of access to medicine. This study, conducted in partnership with a Somali women’s health centre, seeks to understand Somali women’s use of informal and formal networks of healthcare. Drawing from qualitative interviews with Somali, refugee women, this article identifies four emerging frameworks through which participants experience chronic pain: (1) pain as a symptom of exile; (2) pain and the strength to bear pain as issues of faith; (3) medicine as powerful, curative and fluid; (4) medical discrimination and exclusion.

  • cross-cultural studies
  • pain management
  • social science
  • spirituality
  • women’s health

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  • Funding This project was funded by the Social Science Research Council - Dissertation Proposal Development Grant.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained. Participants have been given aliases-created personas and pseudonyms throughout this paper.

  • Ethics approval This study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Minnesota.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Unpublished data from this study are not available.