Impact of Chronic Pain on Patients' Quality of Life: A Comparative Mixed-Methods Study

J Patient Exp. 2019 Jun;6(2):133-141. doi: 10.1177/2374373518786013. Epub 2018 Jul 5.


Background: Chronic pain has become a common problem within primary care and can negatively impact patients' lives.

Objective: To assess and explore the impact of chronic pain on patients' quality of life (QoL) using quantitative and qualitative data, respectively.

Methods: A convergent parallel mixed-methods design was used. Chronic pain patients were recruited from a community-based pain clinic located in the North of England. Quality of life was assessed using Short-Form 36 version 2. Quality of life data were also extracted from the Third Oxford and Lifestyles Survey and Welsh Health Survey to allow comparison of QoL of chronic pain patients with that of the general population and patients with long-term conditions. Qualitative interviews were conducted face-to-face using a semistructured topic guide. Quantitative data were analyzed using SPSS version 24 and qualitative data were analyzed thematically.

Results: Seventy-nine patients participated in the quantitative phase. The mean (standard deviation) age was 46.5 (14.5). Lower back (54; 68.3%) followed by lower limb were the most common pain sites. Compared with the general population and patients with long-term conditions, chronic pain patients had significantly lower mean QoL scores across all domains of SF-36 (All P < .05). Six themes emerged from qualitative data: interference with physical functioning, interference with professional life, interference with relationships and family life, interference with social life, interference with sleep, and interference with mood.

Conclusion: The multidimensional negative impact of chronic pain leads to poorer QoL among patients with chronic pain compared to the general population and patients with other long-term conditions.

Keywords: SF-36; chronic pain; mixed-methods; qualitative; quality of life.