What does ‘recovery’ mean to people with neck pain?

The authors conducted this study in order to describe the meaning of being recovered as perceived by individuals suffering from chronic mechanical neck pain. To determine the way people with neck pain would describe a recovered state they used a descriptive thematic approach. They applied nominal focus group technique, written reflections, and one-on-one semi-structured interviews to collect sufficient data. They analyzed data from the focus groups through vote tallying as well as thematic analysis. They analyzed the reflections and interviews thematically with two independent researchers. Triangulation and member-checking were used to determine trustworthiness of results. 35 people in all, primarily females with neck pain of traumatic origin, took part in their study. Thematic analysis found 6 themes that adequately described the data: absent or manageable symptoms, having the physical capacity one ought to have, participation in life roles, feeling positive emotions, autonomy & spontaneity, and re-establishing a sense of self. Member checking and triangulation suggested data saturation and accuracy of the generated themes.


The authors concluded that recovery from neck pain appears to be informed by factors that coincide with existing models of health, quality of life and satisfaction. They added that assessing recovery based on symptom or activity-level measures alone risks inaccurate estimates of recovery trajectories from traumatic or non-traumatic neck pain.