Work volition in women with fibromyalgia: a phenomenological analysis

Maayan Lev, Limor Goldner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and objectives: This study develops a working model characterizing work volition among women suffering from fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) to better understand the vocational challenges these women face, the drivers behind their ambitions, and the coping strategies they implement. Materials and methods: A qualitative phenomenological study was conducted consisting of semi-structured interviews with 15 women diagnosed with FMS who are currently employed. The interviews were analyzed according to the principles of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Results: The findings point to the enormous efforts these women make to ration their energy and preserve their careers by implementing calming cognitive, social, and solution-focused strategies. Several motivational factors governing work volition emerged from the interviews: (1) a drive for esteem, power, and control; (2) achieving self-actualization and a sense of meaning in life by nurturing of others; (3) preserving a sense of existence through their career achievements; and (4) pushing beyond their physical limits. They reported implementing four calming, cognitive-focused, social support, and solution-focused strategies to reduce pain. Conclusions: Work plays an important role in grounding these women's sense of vitality and normalcy. This is coupled with their enormous efforts to pursue and preserve their careers by calming the mind and the body. Paradoxically, however, these efforts appear to aggravate their physical exhaustion and distress. The complexity of maintaining a career when diagnosed with FMS as well as issues of general physical and mental health are discussed.Implications for rehabilitation Career has an existential significance for women with Fibromyalgia. Motivational factors for work volition were identified; these include ambition for esteem, the obtaining of meaning, and gaining a sense of existence. Enormous efforts have been taken to save energy and preserve careers. Women are trapped between their desire to work and the need to conserve energy. Body-mind interventions are recommended for women's rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2267-2275
Number of pages9
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Work volition
  • career
  • fibromyalgia
  • health
  • qualitative research
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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