Living with chronic pain: the patient's perspective

Gretl Mchugh, GA McHugh, G. Thoms

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    AIM: The aim of this study is to investigate patients' perceptions and experiences of chronic pain management before and after attending pain services. METHOD: A sample of 245 patients with chronic pain, who attended specialist pain services in 11 UK hospitals, were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Patients' ages ranged between 23 and 86 years (median 51 years), and the duration of pain ranged between six months and 57 years (median five years). RESULTS: Patients reported that pain had had a profound effect on their lives, restricting daily living and leisure activities. 33 per cent (81) were classified as medically disabled. Patients' perceptions and attitudes to the management of chronic pain varied. Their main concern was that, although they wanted a specific diagnosis, they were often not given a reason for their chronic pain. CONCLUSION: Pain management requires a significant amount of input by health professionals. Patients wanted advice on the best techniques to help them cope with chronic pain. Most patients had previously tried many different pain treatments to obtain short-term pain relief. One third of patients had waited up to four months for their initial pain assessment at the pain service. Once referred to specialist pain services, patients were satisfied with their care. Almost half (47 per cent, 115) of the interviewees reported that their pain had improved. As chronic pain has a profound effect on patients' lives, it is important that early diagnosis, treatment and referral to appropriate specialists is given high priority. This study has raised the awareness and understanding of an important, but often misunderstood area.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalNursing Standard
    Volume15 (52)
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • excavation
    • Activities of Daily Living
    • *Adaptation, Psychological
    • Adult
    • Aged
    • Aged, 80 and over
    • *Attitude to Health
    • Chronic Disease
    • Female
    • Human
    • Leisure Activities
    • Male
    • Middle Age
    • Nursing Methodology Research
    • Pain/diagnosis/etiology/*prevention & control/*psychology
    • Pain Measurement
    • Patient Education
    • Quality of Life
    • Questionnaires
    • Referral and Consultation
    • Self Care/methods/*psychology
    • Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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