The experience of chronic back pain: accounts of loss in those seeking help from pain clinics

J. Walker, B. Sofaer, I. Holloway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study responded to the need for greater understanding of the experiences that help to shape the worldviews of chronic back patients as they seek help from pain clinics. Aim: To elaborate on the lived experience of chronic back pain in those actively seeking help from pain clinics. Methods: This was a qualitative study, based on an interpretative phenomenological approach. As part of in-depth interviews, participants were invited to ‘tell their story’ from the time their pain began. Participants were twelve male and eight female patients, all of whom were diagnosed as having chronic benign back pain and had recently attended one of two pain clinics as new referrals. The data were analysed thematically. Findings: Loss was one of five major themes to emerge. The narrative accounts revealed a catalogue of socio-economic and other material losses including loss of physical and mental abilities, occupational and social activities, job or role. In those of working age, these led to financial hardship and changes in interpersonal relationships, culminating in loss of self-worth, future and hope. Conclusions: The findings suggest that material losses, as well as perceptions of loss, are prominent issues for those of working age seeking help from pain clinics for chronic back pain, and may need to be acknowledged and addressed as part of therapeutic interventions. The possibility of age-related differences in pain-related loss may be worthy of further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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