The involvement of significant others within a chronic pain management programme: the views of programme participants and significant others
The dynamic relationship which is widely recognised to exist between a person’s pain and their social environment provides a strong argument for the inclusion of significant others e.g. friends and family, in chronic pain management programmes. To date research concerning the involvement of significant others in chronic pain management programmes has been dominated by a quantitative approach, with a focus on comparing the effectiveness of programmes with and without the involvement of significant others. What is missing from the literature is research illuminating the perspectives of those with pain and significant others about the involvement of friends and family in pain management programmes.
This study utilised a qualitative descriptive methodology to investigate the question: “What are the views of individuals who have participated in a Family Day, delivered as part of the 3 week multidisciplinary chronic pain management programme at The Auckland Regional Pain Service (TARPS), on the involvement of significant others within the programme?”
The purpose of this research was firstly to investigate whether the theoretical rationale for involving significant others within a programme is supported in the views shared by those with pain and significant others. Secondly, to provide TARPS with feedback on their service and this may in turn identify opportunities to enhance programme delivery. Thirdly, the findings will contribute to the body of knowledge that informs the delivery of pain management services in general.
Semi-structured phone interviews were held with eight people who volunteered to participate in this study after attending a Family Day at TARPS. Conventional content analysis of the interview data resulted in the emergence of two themes: Firstly, the involvement of significant others in the programme is important so that everyone is on the same page about pain and its management and secondly, the involvement of significant others in the programme is important so that significant others have the opportunity to access information and support. These views reinforce what is already known about the psychosocial dimension of pain and lend support for the theoretical rationale which is commonly used to justify the involvement of significant others in a pain management programme. The findings also extend existing knowledge about the involvement of significant others in a pain management programme in three ways. Firstly, they highlight a wish for significant others to be directly involved in the programme, rather than via media such as the internet. Secondly, the findings point to the importance of involvement finding a balance between what is feasible for significant others and beneficial for all, and thirdly the need for the involvement of children in the programme to be carefully considered.
To my knowledge this is the first study that has sought to ascertain views on the involvement of significant others in a chronic pain management programme, from the perspective of those with pain and significant others. For those involved in the delivery of pain management services, the findings from this research highlight the urgent need for research into when and how significant others, including children, are involved within programmes