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Man Ther. 2016 Apr;22:56-61. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2015.10.001. Epub 2015 Oct 20.

A qualitative exploration of people's experiences of pain neurophysiological education for chronic pain: The importance of relevance for the individual.

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The Pain Clinic, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK.
Health and Social Care Institute, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK. Electronic address:
Health and Social Care Institute, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK.


Pain neurophysiology education (PNE) is a distinct form of patient education in pain management. The aims of this study were to explore the experience of PNE for people with chronic pain and to gain insight into their understanding of their pain after PNE. This was a qualitative study, based on Interpretive Phenomenology Analysis, using individual semi-structured interviews to collect data. We recruited a purposive sample of 10 adults with chronic musculoskeletal pain (men and women; mean age 48 years; with a mean pain duration of 9 years) who had recently completed PNE delivered as a single 2-h group session. The interview transcripts were analysed for emerging themes. We identified three themes: perceived relevance for the individual participant; perceived benefits for the individual participant; and evidence of reconceptualisation. An interlinking narrative was the importance of relevance. Eight participants viewed the session as relevant and reported benefits ranging from a better understanding of pain, improved ability to cope with the pain, and some suggested improved levels of physical activity. Four of these participants showed evidence of reconceptualisation, which we describe as partial and patchy. Two participants reported no benefit and did not perceive the material delivered within PNE to be relevant to themselves. Relevance to the individual needs of a person with chronic pain may be a key factor in the success of PNE, and this is a particular challenge when it is delivered in a group situation.


Chronic musculoskeletal pain; Patient education; Qualitative

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