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Patients' experiences of chronic musculoskeletal pain

PainSci » bibliography » Toye et al 2013
Tags: chronic pain, mind, psychology, pain problems

Two articles on PainSci cite Toye 2013: 1. A Historical Perspective On Aches ‘n’ Pains2. Mind Over Pain

PainSci notes on Toye 2013:

This paper reviewed qualitative research on musculoskeletal pain to shed light on what it’s like to have chronic pain. Several worrisome themes were clear. Chronic musculoskeletal pain often forces patients into the awkward position of having to prove the legitimacy of their condition: “if I appear ‘too sick’ or ‘not sick enough’ then no one will believe me.” Many end up doubting themselves and questioning their own identity and wondering who is “the real me.” Many lose hope and feel lost (or lost by) the health care system.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

BACKGROUND: Musculoskeletal (MSK) pain is one of the most predominant types of pain and accounts for a large portion of the primary care workload. Aim To systematically review and integrate the findings of qualitative research to increase understanding of patients' experiences of chronic non-malignant MSK pain. Design and setting Synthesis of qualitative research using meta-ethnography using six electronic databases up until February 2012 (Medline, Embase, Cinahl, Psychinfo, Amed and HMIC).

METHOD: Databases were searched from their inception until February 2012, supplemented by hand-searching contents lists of specific journals for 2001-2011 and citation tracking. Full published reports of qualitative studies exploring adults' own experience of chronic non-malignant MSK pain were eligible for inclusion.

RESULTS: Out of 24 992 titles, 676 abstracts, and 321 full texts were screened, 77 papers reporting 60 individual studies were included. A new concept of pain as an adversarial struggle emerged. This adversarial struggle was to: 1) affirm self; 2) reconstruct self in time; 3) construct an explanation for suffering; 4) negotiate the healthcare system; and 5) prove legitimacy. However, despite this struggle there is also a sense for some patients of 6) moving forward alongside pain.

CONCLUSIONS: This review provides a theoretical underpinning for improving patient experience and facilitating a therapeutic collaborative partnership. A conceptual model is presented, which offers opportunities for improvement by involving patients, showing them their pain is understood, and forming the basis to help patients move forward alongside their pain.

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