'Treated as a number, not treated as a person': A qualitative exploration of the perceived barriers to effective pain management of patients with chronic pain

MA Hadi, DP Alldred, M Briggs, K Marczewski, SJ Closs

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Abstract

© Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2017. All rights reserved. No commercial use is permitted unless otherwise expressly granted.Objectives To identify barriers to effective pain management encountered by patients with chronic pain within the UK's National Health Service (NHS). Design Secondary analysis of face-To-face, semistructured qualitative interviews using thematic analysis. Setting A community-based chronic pain clinic jointly managed by a nurse and pharmacist located in the North of England. Participants Nineteen adult (>18 years) patients with chronic pain discharged from a pain clinic, with the ability to understand and speak the English language. Results In general, patients were highly disappointed with the quality of pain management services provided both within primary and secondary care, and consequently were willing to seek private medical care. Barriers to effective pain management were divided into two main themes: healthcare professional-related and health systems-related. Three subthemes emerged under healthcare professionals-related barriers, namely (1) healthcare professionals' lack of interest and empathy, (2) general practitioners' (GP) lack of specialised knowledge in pain management and (3) lack of communication between healthcare professionals. Three subthemes emerged under health system-related barriers: (1) long waiting time for appointments in secondary care, (2) short consultation times with GPS and (3) lack of an integrated multidisciplinary approach. Conclusions The patients expressed a clear desire for the improved provision and quality of chronic pain management services within the NHS to overcome barriers identified in this study. An integrated holistic approach based on a biopsychosocial model is required to effectively manage pain and improve patient satisfaction. Future research should explore the feasibility, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of integrated care delivery models for chronic pain management within primary care.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

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