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Aging well with chronic pain in rural areas: an ecologically informed study

Kingstone, Tom; Chew-Graham, Carolyn; Bartlam, Bernadette

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Bernadette Bartlam


Over half of people in the UK aged 75 years and above experience chronic pain – defined as pain lasting three or more months. Chronic pain can impact activities of daily living, quality of life, and independence. Rural perspectives on aging with chronic pain are rare despite demographic trends indicating that rural populations are aging faster than urban populations and with an increasing prevalence of long-term painful conditions. Through interviews and observations, we explored the experiences of rural older people with chronic pain. Our inquiry was framed by an ecological model of wellness, which argues that socio-spatial and resource environments are crucial in nurturing and developing individual opportunities and competencies, promoting positive perceptions of the environment, and in contributing to overall health. Through an adapted constructivist grounded theory approach, our analysis revealed three key concepts, each an ongoing (re)negotiation between health and the rural environment: “Life coming inwards,” “Managing chronic pain,” and “Maintaining meaning.” Findings highlight the relational nature of rural environments and key factors inherent in supporting people to adapt in order to age well with chronic pain. We consider implications for our understanding of processes of aging well, future research, and policy and service provision.


Kingstone, T., Chew-Graham, C., & Bartlam, B. (in press). Aging well with chronic pain in rural areas: an ecologically informed study. Housing and Society, 47(2), 122 - 145.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 2, 2020
Online Publication Date Apr 2, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2023
Journal Housing and Society
Print ISSN 0888-2746
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Issue 2
Pages 122 - 145
Keywords Rurality, aging well, chronic pain, exploratory methods
Publisher URL


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