What do patients value learning about pain? A mixed-methods survey on the relevance of target concepts after pain science education

Hayley B. Leake, G. Lorimer Moseley, Tasha R. Stanton, Edel T. O'Hagan, Lauren C. Heathcote

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


ABSTRACT: Pain education is a popular treatment approach for persistent pain that involves learning a variety of concepts about pain (ie, target concepts), which is thought to be an important part of recovery. Yet, little is known about what patients value learning about pain. A mixed-methods survey was conducted to identify pain concepts that were valued by people with persistent pain who improved after a pain science education intervention. An online survey was distributed to 123 people who were treated for persistent pain with a pain science education approach; responses of participants who self-identified as "improved" were analysed. Open-ended survey questions were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis and close-ended questions were analysed for frequency of responses. Each question-type was analysed separately, before integration for complementarity. We analysed the data of 97 participants. We constructed 3 themes from the open-ended questions. Pain does not mean my body is damaged (theme 1) captured the importance of abandoning preexisting ideas that pain indicated damage. Thoughts, emotions and experiences affect pain (theme 2) captured the value of recognising multifactorial influences on pain. I can retrain my overprotective pain system (theme 3) captured the importance of conceptualising pain as a heightened protective response that could be lessened. Responses from close-ended questions confirmed that the target concepts represented by these themes are among those most valued, although divergence with the qualitative data suggests differences between patient and clinician language. These data offer patient-centred conceptualizations and language that could assist in further refining pain education interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2558-2568
Number of pages11
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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