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Keywords:

  • alleviation;
  • chronic pain;
  • mixed-method design;
  • suffering

Aims and objectives

To explore and describe the suffering of patients that arises from chronic pain, and the alleviation of this suffering within a chronic pain management programme. In this mixed-method study, we examined how quantitative findings can be integrated to answer a complex research question and expand qualitative findings.

Background

Suffering and grief often follow chronic pain and can involve a number of experiences. Therefore, understanding and explaining the chronic pain experience must incorporate subjective experiences and phenomenological dimensions.

Design

A qualitatively driven multiple mixed-method design. The qualitative core was supplemented with three quantitative sequential components and integrated after analyses in a result narrative.

Methods

Thirty-four consecutive outpatients were recruited to an eight-week pain management programme that was founded on cognitive behavioural therapy. The qualitative core component consisted of asking the participants about their experiences of the programme after the completion and again after six months. Two quantitative questionnaires, measuring living with pain and grief and loss were administered at pretest, post-test and six-month follow-up. Satisfaction with the programme was measured after its completion.

Results

Both the qualitative reports and the quantitative data showed that the programme had been valuable and alleviated the participants' suffering. The written reports described the importance of group processes, increased self-understanding and other aspects that were meaningful to the participants. The quantitative data provided additional information about what and how the programme had been important to the participants.

Conclusions

The findings clearly indicate that suffering can be alleviated by attending such programme as several key shifts in perspectives took place, and allowed them to move towards a better life.

Relevance to clinical practice

By attending such programme, patients may learn about cognitive and behavioural factors that contribute to chronic pain and suffering and how alleviation is possible through change of focus and active involvement.