Success or failure of chronic pain rehabilitation: the importance of good interaction - a qualitative study under patients and professionals

Disabil Rehabil. 2014;36(22):1903-10. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.881566. Epub 2014 Jan 27.


Aim: The aim of this study was to explore which factors are associated with a successful treatment outcome in chronic pain patients and professionals participating in a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program, with a specific focus on the patient-professional interaction.

Methods: Patients (n = 16) and professionals (n = 10) were interviewed and/or observed. The transcribed interviews and observations were analyzed and themes were described.

Results: Patients with a positive treatment outcome came to a shared understanding of their pain with their professional, demonstrated new learned behavior and were able to continue their learning process at home. Patients with a negative treatment outcome did not reach a shared understanding of their pain with their professional, were not able to change their behavior and wanted more help to achieve this. Both patient groups experienced organizational barriers within the treatment process. Factors associated with a high quality of patient-professional interaction included the patient experience of being taken seriously, the involvement of the professional with the patient, a clear explanation of the pain, and an open interaction between patient and professional.

Conclusion: This study provides insight into factors which were related to a positively or negatively experienced outcome of pain rehabilitation. A good match within the patient-professional interaction seems essential. IMPLICATIONS OF REHABILITATION: Within chronic pain rehabilitation good didactic skills and a client-centered attitude of the professional may be helpful in order to make the patient feel being taken seriously. An assessment of the patient's learning style might lead to a better fit of the patient education and training according to an individual's learning style. Relapse might be prevented by paying special attention to the integration of new behavior within important life areas as work and sports.

Keywords: Communication; interaction; learning process; pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*