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Publication Date

August 2018

Publication Title

Journal of General Internal Medicine



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pain, patient participation, doctor-patient communication, relationships, qualitative research


BackgroundPain management discussions between patient and provider can be stressful to navigate and greatly impact the care received. Because of the complexity, emotional color, and sensitivity of pain management, such discussions require a high degree of skill.ObjectiveTo identify patients’ perspectives of patient-centered care communication within the context of pain management discussions.DesignWe conducted semi-structured interviews (25–65 min) with patients regarding their experiences with pain assessment and management.Participants: 36 patients (29 males, 7 females), from 3 Veteran Affairs healthcare locations. Participant age ranged from 28 to 94 with pain intensity ranging from 0 to 10, based on the “pain now” numeric rating scale report gathered at the time of the interview.Approach: Interview transcript analysis was conducted using the constant comparison method to produce mutually agreed upon themes.Key resultsElements of patient-centered care communication described by participants include judgment, openness, listening, trust, preferences, solution-oriented, customization, and longevity. Patients perceive provider reciprocation in openness and trust as drivers of the patient-provider relationship, thereby enhancing positive, associated themes.ConclusionsFindings highlight the importance of the patient-provider relationship in patient-centered care and offer patient-centered care communication tools for practitioners to utilize, such as solution-oriented messages and communicating trust, especially when interacting with patients about pain.


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