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Br J Community Nurs. 2011 Feb;16(2):90-8.

Help-seeking behaviour for the treatment of chronic pain.

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School of Nursing and Midwifery, Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, University College Cock.


There are more people living with chronic pain than cardiovascular disease and cancer combined. Many people with chronic pain do not seek help from health professionals and suffer in silence for many years. Untreated chronic pain can lead to increased disability, increased risk of fall, depression, sleep deprivation, reduced quality of life and social isolation. The aim of this review is to determine the factors associated with help-seeking for chronic pain in an effort to highlight potential reasons why help may or may not be sought. A total of 23 studies were included in the review. On the whole the review has demonstrated that the most significant demographic and clinical factors associated with help-seeking were increasing age, female gender, pain severity and disability. Psychosocial factors included past help seeking, outcome expectancy, age-related beliefs, social cost and social influence. While the evidence presented appears promising, some conflicting results were found and methodological limitations were noted. Further research needs to examine the underlying determinants of help-seeking behaviour for chronic pain underpinned by theory. The information derived from such research will augment the development of a complex nursing intervention to improve help-seeking for chronic pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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