Patients’ perceptions of a chronic pain rehabilitation program: changing the conversation.

Research supports the effectiveness of comprehensive approaches to chronic pain treatment, including behavioral management and physical reconditioning. However, less is known about patients’ perceptions of this treatment approach. The current study evaluated patient perceptions and treatment outcomes utilizing both qualitative and quantitative data collection. Methods A total of 498 adult patients (≥18 years of age; Mage = 49.1) completed an intensive outpatient interdisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation program, completed survey measures at admission and discharge, and were asked open-ended questions about their treatment experience at discharge. Patients reported significant decreases in pain severity, t(488) = 23.08, p < .001, and pain-related interference, t(488) = 24.28, p < .001, at discharge. Patients endorsed self-management strategies, particularly relaxation skills (85%), moderation and/or modification (47%), and exercise, stretching and/or physical therapy (39%) as the most important aspects of treatment.

Patients perceive behavioral skills to manage pain and physical reconditioning to be important components of a successful pain rehabilitation program. These findings can inform conversations with both physicians and patients about the importance of biopsychosocial approaches to pain management. Key limitations include a lack of racial/ethnic diversity, use of anonymous data that cannot be linked directly to patient outcomes, and reliance on self-report data.