Portuguese individuals` experiences and perceptions of non-specific chronic low back pain

  • Carmen Sofia Frade Caeiro

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Low back pain (LBP) is the most common form of chronic pain. Approximately 85% to 90% of chronic low back pain (CLBP) episodes in primary care cannot be related to serious pathology or neurocompression, being described as nonspecific chronic low back pain (NSCLBP). This disorder involves continuous pain or recurrent flare-ups that are responsible for high levels of distress, functional disability and work absenteeism. It has also a significant impact on health care systems and society in general. Considering the complexity inherent in the experience of NSCLBP, where personal and cultural contexts play a major role, research has highlighted the need to study this phenomenon in contexts that have not yet been investigated. This study aimed to explore the Portuguese individuals` experiences and perceptions of NSCLBP. An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was employed to explore the experiences of eight participants, who were recruited purposefully from three Portuguese health sites. Semi-structured one-to-one interviews were carried out in order to collect data. The interviews were audiorecorded and transcribed verbatim. Following an inductive process of data analysis, five themes emerged as interrelated parts of an extended account that explored the Portuguese individuals` experiences and perceptions of NSCLBP. In the first theme the disruptive nature of the NSCLBP experience was emphasised. In the second, the participants` meaning making of NSCLBP and their need to understand it were highlighted. In the third, the clinical encounters and their contribution to maintaining the lack of participants’ understanding about NSCLBP were emphasised. In the fourth, the meaning making of NSCLBP contribution to reshaping the participants` social interactions was explored. In the fifth, the participants` definition of their sense of self through the meaning making of NSCLBP was highlighted. In order to promote the transparency of data analysis, an audit trail was developed to document all relevant steps of this process. This study has offered the first insights into the Portuguese individuals’ experiences of NSCLBP disorder, which may help clinicians in transferring this knowledge to the therapeutic approach to patients with similar experiences. The knowledge produced may be used to inform recommendations for NSCLBP management.
Date of AwardMay 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

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