“I've Actually Changed How I Live”—Patients' Long-Term Perceptions of a Cognitive Behavioral Pain Management Program

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Objective. To determine patients’ perceptions regarding cognitive behavioral pain management programs, and to determine what, if any, strategies learned on the program patients continue to use long-term to manage their pain.

Design. A qualitative, focus-group based study.

Setting. An outpatient multidisciplinary pain management program in a university teaching hospital.

Patients. Patients with chronic pain who had previously completed a 4-week cognitive behavioral pain management program (2001–2014).

Methods. Sixteen patients attended one of four focus groups. A battery of semi-structured questions explored their perceptions of the cognitive behavioral program, and which strategies they found useful and continued to use long-term to manage their pain.

Results. Six key themes emerged: 1) universal long-term positive feedback on the utility of the program; 2) the program facilitated long-term changes in daily life; 3) participants now considered themselves as the “new me”; 4) request for more updates on emerging new treatments/pain knowledge; 5) recognizing that the key to maximizing gain from the program was to be open, to listen, and accept; and 6) participants sharing pain management knowledge with others in pain.

Conclusion. There was universal positive feedback for the pain management program. Despite the years since they participated in one, patients continue to use key strategies to effectively manage their pain (pacing, relaxation), embedding them in their daily lives to maximize their quality of life.

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