My Friends Don't Really Understand Me: Examining Close Friendships of Adolescents with Chronic Pain
Forgeron, Paula Anne
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Chronic pain negatively affects all dimensions of an adolescent’s life. Little is known about the social impact of chronic pain for adolescents, especially on close friendships. More is known about peer acceptance and number of friends than the characteristics and qualities of close friendships. This series of studies used mixed methods to generate knowledge regarding the impact chronic pain has on close friendships. Adolescents with and without chronic pain participated. The findings shed light on the challenges chronic pain presents in close friendships. Adolescents with chronic pain developed new friendship needs but non-pain peers may be uncertain of their knowledge and skill in how best to support a close friend with chronic pain. This gap between friendship needs and expectations versus lack of knowledge and skill may result in friendship tensions and disengagement. Findings highlight areas for interventions to maintain and improve close friendships of adolescents with chronic pain.