Social Representation of Pain and Suffering in Cancer Patients: A Mixed Methods Study.

Fiche publication

Date publication

juillet 2023


Qualitative health research


Membres identifiés du Cancéropôle Est :

Tous les auteurs :
Salès-Wuillemin E, Lejeune C, Clain A, Carrel T, Dolard A


Most patients report physical pain and psychosocial problems (suffering, depression, anxiety) during and after cancer treatment. This mixed methods study, based on the Theory of Social Representations, examines if pain and suffering are taboo subjects for oncologists and patients, and if they share the same representations. The data collected included 33 in-depth interviews with patients in chemotherapy/radiotherapy treatment ( = 20) and their oncologists ( = 13). We measured the number of spontaneous mentions of the words "pain" and "suffering" and their synonyms. We then examined semantic networks related to these two terms. The results show that for patients, suffering refers to bodily degradation and vulnerability while pain confirms the presence of the disease. In the interviews conducted with oncologists, suffering is absent. Pain is perceived as a sign of disease progression and an indicator of tolerance to treatment. These results may help in increasing the mutual understanding between oncologists and patients and facilitating the detection of depression and anxiety.

Mots clés

Social Representations, discourse analysis, mixed methods, pain, suffering


Qual Health Res. 2023 07 12;:10497323231165598