Secondary Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Social representations of chronic pain in newspapers, online media, and film

Kugelmann, Roberta,*; Watson, Kelseya; Frisby, Gregorya,b

doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001422
Research Paper

Social representation theory provides a framework for studying how scientific knowledge affects common sense and communication through inquiries into everyday discourse. This qualitative study examined social representations of chronic pain from 4 sources: North American newspapers; “Chronic Illness Cat” memes from the social media web site, Pinterest; video blogs on YouTube; and from a 2014 film, Cake, and interviews and comments concerning it. Using thematic analysis, we first identified social representations found in our 4 sources and others found in 1 or 2 of them. Second, we analyzed the sources for their rhetorical intentions. Vlogs directly and memes indirectly were first-person accounts, self-authorizing statements of the truth of chronic pain, whereas newspaper articles and the film were third-person accounts of pain, the differences between these perspectives affecting what was said. We conclude that the medium shapes the message.

Qualitative analysis of newspaper articles, memes, video blogs, and a film explored how social representations of chronic pain are produced and reproduced.

aDepartment of Psychology, University of Dallas, Irving, TX, United States

bDepartment of Philosophy, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Corresponding author. Address: Psychology Department, University of Dallas, 1845 E. Northgate Drive, Irving, TX 75062, United States. Tel.: 972-721-5268. E-mail address: (R. Kugelmann).

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Received February 03, 2018

Accepted September 04, 2018

© 2019 International Association for the Study of Pain
You currently do not have access to this article

To access this article:

Note: If your society membership provides full-access, you may need to login on your society website