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Julianne Mead. Photo: USC

Nurse turns to creative writing to help young people in chronic pain

A nurse who cares for patients with chronic pain is working on a novel that tackles its impact on young people’s lives.

Julianne Mead wants more young people with chronic pain to see themselves in fiction, so she enrolled in a doctoral degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast to research and start writing a young adult book.

She will draw on more than 20 years’ experience as a nurse at Queensland Children’s Hospital. Her work has included helping to establish a holistic pain management service for young people, working with allied health teams to help kids understand their pain and the journey ahead.

“A lot of health is about people telling their stories, and I think often in health we're very rushed when we talk to people, and we don't always allow the time for people to tell their stories.

“I’m interested in the problems relating to chronic illness – reduced social interactions, family tensions, peer assumptions such as ‘you’re faking it’ – and how these affect young people at a time when they are still forming their identity,” she said.

The story will follow a 16-year-old girl as she tries to come to terms with both the physical and emotional pain she is experiencing.

Mead said creative writing was another way to educate young people in the community about chronic pain, as they’re unlikely to seek out information for themselves on websites and textbooks.

"People need to know the pain is not all in the [young person’s] head – they're not making it up. It's is very real, and people in the community and we as health professionals need to have an understanding of that and be supportive.”

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