Published: 07-12-2021 10:12 | Updated: 07-12-2021 10:47

New thesis highlights how women with exhaustion and long-lasting pain experience their health

Hi Anja Gebhardt, PhD student at the Division of Nursing. On December 15 you will defend your thesis ”Beyond exhaustion and pain: the intertwinement of health and suffering among women and mothers”. What is the main focus of the thesis?

Anja Gebhardt, PhD student at the Division of Nursing, NVS.

My thesis highlights, from a caring science perspective, how women with exhaustion and long-lasting pain experience their health and their suffering. It can be valuable to look at women’s health in relation to their suffering to capture existential aspects of exhaustion and pain, instead of only consider the experienced symptoms. Therefore, the thesis’ focus was to understand women’s exhaustion and pain from women’s life situations that also included experiences of being a mother.

Which are the most important results?

The findings showed that women with exhaustion and long-lasting pain can live in relations – family, friends, and partners – in which they experience less emotional and practical support than healthy women. Sometimes, the women also had been in relations that had been damaging to their health. The women could therefore feel lonely in difficult events in life that they had experienced, and with responsibilities in family life. The findings indicate that women with exhaustion and pain bear a life burden and a relational vulnerability that is interwoven with their own health and their suffering.

How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people’s health?

The care we offer patients with exhaustion and long-lasting pain builds on the understanding of health. The thesis highlights the importance of understanding health as an ongoing process that is under continuous change and that includes suffering and vulnerability as inevitable aspects of human beings’ lives. Our results can hopefully guide health care in considering the challenging life situation for women with exhaustion and pain, and support the women to create and strengthen meaningful relations.

What´s in the future for you? Will you keep on conducting research?

I always had a huge interest in women’s and mothers’ health, and I hope that I also in the future can contribute to  care that makes a difference for women  through research, education of healthcare staff or through clinical work. The future will tell.