Enablers and barriers of people with chronic musculoskeletal pain for engaging in telehealth interventions: protocol for a qualitative systematic review and meta-synthesis

Syst Rev. 2020 May 31;9(1):122. doi: 10.1186/s13643-020-01390-x.


Background: Chronic musculoskeletal pain represents an enormous burden in society. Best-practice care for chronic musculoskeletal pain suggests adoption of self-management strategies. Telehealth interventions (e.g., videoconferencing) are a promising approach to promote self-management and have the potential to overcome geographical barriers between patient and care providers. Understanding patient perspectives will inform and identify practical challenges towards applying the self-management strategies delivered via telehealth to everyday lives. The aim of this study is to synthesize the perceptions of individuals with musculoskeletal pain with regards to enablers and barriers to engaging in telehealth interventions for chronic musculoskeletal pain self-management.

Methods: A systematic review of qualitative studies will be performed based on searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, LILACS, and PsycINFO databases. Screening of identified titles will be conducted by two independent investigators. Data extraction will retrieve detailed qualitative information from selected articles. The critical appraisal skills program (CASP) checklist will be used for critical appraisal of included studies, and the level of confidence in the findings will be assessed using the confidence in the evidence from reviews of qualitative research (GRADE-CERQual). A thematic synthesis approach will be used to derive analytical themes.

Discussion: This review will systematically identify, synthesize, and present enablers and barriers reported by people with musculoskeletal pain to engage in telehealth interventions. The review will provide information required to support the design and improvement of telehealth services.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42019136148.

Keywords: Chronic pain; Internet; Musculoskeletal; Protocol; Telehealth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Pain* / therapy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self-Management*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Telemedicine*