• chronic pain;
  • needs assessment;
  • nominal group technique;
  • patient perspectives;
  • patient–physician interactions;
  • PRECEDE–PROCEED planning model


Purpose  The purpose of this study was to better understand the experiences of people suffering from chronic pain in order to plan client-centred educational interventions.

Methods  People in the community with chronic pain were invited via newspapers, newsletters and e-mail discussion lists to participate in a needs assessment process and to attend an educational session at a local community college. Using the nominal group technique, which is a qualitative method of data gathering, 53 participants reported their perceived challenges and needs in dealing with chronic pain. Participants were randomly assigned to one of 10 groups ranging from three to seven people. Responses were pooled to develop an overall list of their major concerns and needs.

Results  Issues were classified into six priority areas: medical and treatments, problems with daily living, emotional distress, social issues, sleep disturbances and financial issues. Participants indicated they had difficulty finding accessible, effective and acceptable care. Many participants perceived their family physician or other health-care providers were not adequately meeting their health-care needs. Specifically, sleep disorders; feeling of depression, irritability, worry and anxiety were perceived as medical and treatment areas requiring improvement. In addition, participants sought greater validation of their lived experience of chronic pain.

Conclusion  Participants perceived that their needs were not being met adequately. There is a need for further study on physician–patient communication and its impact on patient health status and disability.