What Do We Mean by “Older Adults' Persistent Pain Self-management”? A Concept Analysis


  • Disclosure: This research was conducted as part of the primary authors' doctoral (PhD) studies and funded by the College of Life Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK.
  • Conflict of Interest: None
  • Coauthors and Contributions

    Study concept and designAll authors
    Acquisition of dataCS
    Analysis and interpretation of dataAll authors
    Drafting/revising manuscript for important intellectual contentAll authors
    Approval of final versionAll authors



No standard definition exists for the concept “persistent pain self-management” or how it should be defined in relation to older adults. Poorly defined concepts can result in misunderstandings in the clinical setting and can hinder research through difficulties identifying or measuring the concept.


To ascertain attributes, referents, antecedents, and consequences of the concept older adults' persistent pain self-management and develop a theoretical definition.


Rodgers evolutionary model of concept analysis was used to systematically analyze articles from the academic and grey literature (N = 45). Data were extracted using standardized extraction forms and analyzed using thematic analysis.


This concept was discussed in three ways: as an intervention, in reference to everyday behaviors, and as an outcome. Five defining attributes were identified: multidimensional process, personal development, active individuals, symptom response, and symptom control. Patients' perceived need and ability to manage pain with support from others is necessary for pain self-management to occur. Numerous physical, psychological, and social health consequences were identified. A theoretical definition is discussed.


Our findings have clarified existing use and understanding regarding the concept of older adults' persistent pain self-management. We have identified three areas for future development: refinement of the attributes of this concept within the context of older adults, an exploration of how providers can overcome difficulties supporting older adults' persistent pain self-management, and a clarification of the overall theoretical framework of older adults' persistent pain self-management.