Managing pain in the workplace: A focus group study of challenges, strategies and what matters most to workers with low back pain

Torill Helene Tveito, William S. Shaw, Yueng-hsiang Huang, Michael Nicholas, Gregory Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose.Most working adults with low back pain (LBP) continue to work despite pain, but few studies have assessed self-management strategies in this at-work population. The purpose of this study was to identify workplace challenges and self-management strategies reported by workers remaining at work despite recurrent or persistent LBP, to be used as a framework for the development of a workplace group intervention to prevent back disability. Method. Workers with LBP (n38) participated in five focus groups, and audio recordings of sessions were analysed to assemble lists of common challenges and coping strategies. A separate analysis provided a general categorisation of major themes. Results. Workplace pain challenges fell within four domains: activity interference, negative self-perceptions, interpersonal challenges and inflexibility of work. Self-management strategies consisted of modifying work activities and routines, reducing pain symptoms, using cognitive strategies and communicating pain effectively. Theme extraction identified six predominant themes: knowing your work setting, talking about pain, being prepared for a bad day, thoughts and emotions, keeping moving and finding leeway. Conclusions. To retain workers with LBP, this qualitative investigation suggests future intervention efforts should focus on worker communication and cognitions related to pain, pacing of work and employer efforts to provide leeway for altered job routines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2035-2045
Number of pages11
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Volume32
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2 2010
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Low Back Pain
Focus Groups
Workplace
Pain
Self Care
Neurobehavioral Manifestations
Self Concept
Cognition
Emotions
Communication
Population

Keywords

  • focus groups
  • Low back pain
  • qualitative
  • self-management
  • workplace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation

Cite this

Managing pain in the workplace : A focus group study of challenges, strategies and what matters most to workers with low back pain. / Tveito, Torill Helene; Shaw, William S.; Huang, Yueng-hsiang; Nicholas, Michael; Wagner, Gregory.

In: Disability and Rehabilitation, Vol. 32, No. 24, 02.11.2010, p. 2035-2045.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tveito, Torill Helene ; Shaw, William S. ; Huang, Yueng-hsiang ; Nicholas, Michael ; Wagner, Gregory. / Managing pain in the workplace : A focus group study of challenges, strategies and what matters most to workers with low back pain. In: Disability and Rehabilitation. 2010 ; Vol. 32, No. 24. pp. 2035-2045.
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