The association between patient-professional partnerships and self-management of chronic back pain: a mixed methods study

Yu Fu, Ge Yu, Elaine McNichol, Kath Marczewski, S. Jose Closs

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BACKGROUND: Self-management is recommended for patients with chronic back pain. Health professionals' support for self-management can be more effective when working in partnership with patients. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between patient-professional partnerships and the self-management of chronic back pain.

METHODS: An explanatory sequential mixed methods study was undertaken. Adults with chronic back pain referred to pain management clinics participated at baseline and three-month follow-up. Their pain severity, partnerships with health professionals and self-management ability were measured. Hierarchical linear regression was undertaken to examine the strength of the associations between partnerships and self-management. A subsample was interviewed about experiences of the impact of patient-professional partnerships on their self-management ability, using a grounded theory approach.

RESULTS: A total of 147 patients were recruited and 103 (70%) patients completed the follow-up. A strong association (p<0.001) was detected between patient-professional partnerships and all dimensions of self-management ability. This was validated by interviews with a subsample of 26 patients. Four themes emerged: connecting with health professionals, being supported through partnerships, feeling positive and making progress towards self-management, and acknowledging the impact but feeling no difference.

CONCLUSIONS: Developing a partnership in care may improve patients' ability to gain knowledge, manage side effects and symptoms and adhere to treatment. It helped strengthen health professionals' support and produce a sense of safety for patients. Guiding health professionals in building partnerships where expectations are acknowledged and tailored information and support are provided could be considered as part of the standard education and training. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Early online date5 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Mar 2018

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Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


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