Societal beliefs about pain may be more balanced than previously thought: Results of the Guernsey pain survey

Martin Rabey, Clair Hebron, Helen Slater, niamh Moloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Musculoskeletal pain is multidimensional and associated with significant societal impact. Persistent or chronic pain is a public health priority. A step towards high-value care is a contemporary understanding of pain. While pain-related knowledge has been examined in specific conditions (e.g. neck pain) knowledge of the public's broader understanding regarding musculoskeletal pain per se, warrants investigation. This study examined the public's knowledge and beliefs regarding musculoskeletal pain and pain management. This observational cohort study was conducted in Guernsey (January 2019-February 2020). Participants (n = 1656; 76.0% female) completed an online questionnaire capturing: demographics, pain experience, work absenteeism, understanding of pain and pain management, multidimensional influences, physical activity, pain catastrophising and healthcare decision-making. Statements were deemed true/false/equivocal and mapped to biopsychosocial/biomedical/neutral perspectives based upon contemporary literature. Descriptive statistics were analysed for each statement. Participants' responses were examined for alignment to a contemporary viewpoint and themes within responses derived using a semi-quantitative approach modelled on direct content analysis. Comparisons between participants with/without pain were examined (χ -squared/Wilcoxon Rank Sum test). Within the cohort 83.6% reported currently experiencing pain. The overarching theme was perspectives that reflected both biomedical and contemporary, multidimensional understandings of pain. Sub-themes included uncertainty about pain persistence and evidence-based means to reduce recurrence, and reliance upon healthcare professionals for guiding decision-making. Compared to those with pain, those without had a greater belief that psychological interventions may help and lower pain catastrophising. Participants' understanding of pain demonstrated both biomedical and multidimensional pain understanding consistent with elements of a contemporary understanding of pain. [Abstract copyright: © 2024. The Author(s).]
Original languageEnglish
Article number72 (2024)
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2024


  • Understanding
  • Pain
  • Perspectives
  • Societal beliefs
  • Survey


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