Managing persistent physical symptoms when being social and active is the norm: A qualitative study among young people in Denmark

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Young patients with persistent physical symptoms (PPS) constitute a considerable proportion of contacts in general practice. Currently there is no formalised treatment of PPS in primary care settings. The present study is part of the research project, Yo-eASY, aiming to develop a self-help programme ‘My Symptoms Young’ for people aged 15–25 with PPS. The study examines how young people with PPS attempt to manage their symptoms while staying engaged in their daily life activities and what is at stake in these attempts. It also provides input for the new self-help programme.

Semi-structured interviews with 11 young people with added photo-elicitation to capture the participants' experiences as they occurred in their everyday lives. The data material was analysed using a thematic analysis approach, drawing on the concept of subjectivity and theory about social acceleration.

The participants employed alleviating measures and tried to find patterns between activities and the severity of their symptoms in order to adjust their activities. Decisions not to participate in social activities were accompanied by feelings of missing out. The participants' attempts at adjusting their activity level was challenged by norms of being social and active, and they experienced difficulties prioritising among activities and explaining their symptoms to others.

PPS shaped the young participants' sense of how to act towards their bodies and social relationships. A self-help programme aimed at young people with PPS should contain symptom explanations that can also be given to friends and family, and practical help with prioritizing between activities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111301
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 369078299