The aim of the study was to explore beliefs about pain and related coping strategies of individuals experiencing abdominal pain during remitted inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and their perception of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in the context of IBD. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 23 participants who self-reported experiences of abdominal pain during remitted IBD. The study was embedded in the constructivism tradition and reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyse the interviews. Results encompass 1) How IBS is perceived; 2) How individuals monitor symptoms to distinguish active from quiescent IBD; 3) Coping strategies employed to navigate the pain; 4)How manageability of pain guides the distinction between active and quiescent disease; v. How context influences pain interpretation and management; 5) What role illness history and health literacy play in the meaning of ongoing pain. The IBS label was perceived by some as invalidating, although it helped some people to worry less about ongoing pain and symptoms during remitted IBD. However, even for the latter individuals, IBS did not bring a clear understanding of painful symptoms. Participants’ responses highlight a need for explanations that incorporate both the complexity of IBD and underlying causes of ongoing pain during remission. Communication would benefit from the appreciation of pain (and symptoms) in the wider context of illness history and health literacy.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS)
- abdominal pain
- qualitative research
- thematic analysis