‘A lifebuoy’ and ‘a waste of time’: patients’ varying experiences of multidisciplinary pain centre treatment- a qualitative study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBMC Health Services Research. 2019, 19 (1015), . 10.1186/s12913-019-4876-5
Background: The recognition of chronic pain as a biopsychosocial phenomenon has led to the establishment of multidisciplinary pain treatment facilities, such as pain centres. Previous studies have focussed on inpatient, groupbased or time-limited multidisciplinary pain programmes. The aim was to investigate variation in patients’ experiences of attending individual outpatient multidisciplinary treatment at pain centres in Norway. Methods: This was a qualitative study using semi-structured individual interviews with 19 informants. The informants were recruited among persons who after referral by their general practitioners 12 months prior had attended multidisciplinary pain treatment at a pain centre. The data were analysed thematically using systematic text condensation. Results: The informants had received different treatments at the pain centres. Some had undergone only one multidisciplinary assessment in which a physician, a psychologist and a physiotherapist had been present, whereas others had initially been to a multidisciplinary assessment and then continued treatment by one or more of the professionals at the centre. Their experiences ranged from the pain centre as being described as a lifebuoy by some informants who had attended treatment over time, to being described as a waste of time by others who had only attended one or two multidisciplinary sessions. Prominent experiences included being met with understanding and a perception of receiving the best possible treatment, but also included disappointment over not being offered any treatment and perceiving the multidisciplinary approach as unnecessary. Conclusions: There were large variations in the informants’ experiences in the pain centres. The findings indicate that the pain centres’ multidisciplinary approach can represent a new approach to living with chronic pain but may also not provide anything new. Efforts should be devoted to ensuring that the pain centres’ multidisciplinary treatment approach is aligned with their patients’ actual needs.