Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Clergypersons' experience of visiting church members in pain: An analysis in terms of the relational theory of pain and implications for pain education and the UCC
by Cunningham, Nance Killough, Ph.D., The University of Oklahoma, 2009, 197; 3365909
Abstract (Summary)

Using the methodology of narrative inquiry, the principal investigator traces, through her own narrative, the development and refinement of the relational theory of pain, a theory she postulated (Cunningham 1999). She describes how the refinement of the theory has been influenced by Lawrence Cremin's concept of public education (1976), Jane Roland Martin's concept of hidden curriculum (1976, 2002), and Michel Foucault's concepts power and resistance at the micro-level (Foucault 1977, 1990; Foucault and Faubion, 1994). Establishing that the harm of untreated or undertreated pain continues, and that no qualitative studies about clergy experiences of visiting church members in pain have been completed, Cunningham explains that she interviewed primarily United Church of Christ ministers because of the UCC's stated interest in social justice in general, and in health care in particular; because of their practice of developing lay and clergy educational materials; because they speak in terms of the relational nature of injustice; (but) because they have not been involved in the pain arena up to this time.

The author uses her relational theory of pain to analyze the interview data from fifteen ministers in four states, as a method of searching out hidden curricula and explicating how belief states such as the high value of endurance and the inevitability of pain can impede the communication of pain and establishment of the political value of pain. The author analyses the interviews, using the categories of factors that support or work against successful communication of pain, and factors that support or work against political validation of pain. The author provides another layer of analysis by comparing the interpreted data with the fictionalized vignette of a chaplain who must decide how and whether to hear and advocate for a patient in severe pain. Cunningham suggests potential areas for further research by the UCC, potential ideas for curricula development, potential ways to involve ministers through sermons, and potential avenues of UCC policy development and implementation. She argues that other religious denominations can use this study to analyze their own assumptions and practices so that they might better protect vulnerable patients in pain.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Laird, Susan
Commitee: Covaleskie, John, Hirschfeld, Tassie Katherine, Rowe, William, Smith, Joan
School: The University of Oklahoma
Department: Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- Oklahoma
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Clerical studies, Religious education, Education philosophy, Public health
Keywords: Clergy, Foucault, Michel, Narrative inquiry, Pain, Social justice, United Church of Christ
Publication Number: 3365909
ISBN: 9781109262285
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