Exploring the Influence of Patient-Professional Partnerships on the Self-Management of Chronic Back Pain: A Qualitative Study

Pain Manag Nurs. 2016 Oct;17(5):339-49. doi: 10.1016/j.pmn.2016.05.004. Epub 2016 Jul 5.


Patients are encouraged to take an active role in self-managing their chronic back pain and functional problems. However, research suggests that patients do not self-manage, and they expect health professionals to fulfill a comprehensive role in managing pain. A partnership between patients and health professionals is called for, and self-management works best when they share knowledge and work together toward optimal goals. To explore how patients' partnerships with health professionals may influence their ability to self-manage pain by exploring patients' experiences. A grounded theory approach with in-depth, semistructured interviews was undertaken. Each interview was analyzed using constant comparative analysis. This study was nested within a larger study on patient-professional partnerships and the self-management of chronic back pain. Twenty-six patients with chronic back pain were recruited in a community-based pain management service in Northern England, United Kingdom. Three themes emerged: building partnerships with health professionals; being supported by health professionals to self-manage the pain; and experiencing a change in self-management. Five approaches that underpinned health professionals' self-management support were identified. Facilitators of and barriers to a good partnership were reported. This study suggests that a good patient-professional partnership has a positive effect on patients' self-management ability. A theoretical model explaining how such partnership may influence self-management was developed. It is necessary for both patients and health professionals to be aware of their partnerships, which may enhance the effect of pain management services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Back Pain / psychology
  • Back Pain / therapy*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy
  • Female
  • Grounded Theory
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Care / psychology*