Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Carol Stalker

Advisor Role

Dissertation Advisor

Second Advisor

Juanne Clarke

Advisor Role

Dissertation Co-Advisor


This qualitative study explored the retrospective and ongoing healthcare experiences of men and women who have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (FM), a contested, chronic, and gendered condition of unknown origin. The research question was: "How do men and women who have a diagnosis of FM experience interactions with healthcare providers?" The study, which was epistemologically rooted in the critical theories of feminist poststructuralism and intersectionality, blended constructivist grounded theory with a participatory component, an arts-based research methodology called body-map storytelling. Thirty-five participants were recruited from the Greater Toronto Area and Kitchener-Waterloo. Ten participants completed in-depth interviews while 25 participants completed body maps within a series of focus group sessions.

Through analysis of the verbal and visual data, four key findings emerged. First, participants experienced compromised healthcare due to structural barriers and unsupportive attitudes of healthcare providers. Second, participants’ experiences of compromised healthcare were impacted by systems of embodied differences. Third, participants resisted the system of compromised healthcare through strategies of self-management. Finally, participants described their experiences of helpful clinical practices, as well as their suggestions for improving FM healthcare services. The study contributes crucial information for the transformation of healthcare policies, programs and clinical practices for the FM population. As a form of applied research, the study has also helped give voice to and empower a marginalized population.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons