Factors influencing the consulting behaviour of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain

Authors: Parsons, S., Underwood, M., Breen, A.C., Foster, N.E.L., Pincus, T. and Vogel, S.

Journal: Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery - British Volume

Volume: 87-B

Pages: 208

ISSN: 0301-620X


Background – Chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP) is a major health problem treated by a wide range of health professionals. Complementary therapies are likely to become more readily available on the NHS. Therefore a greater understanding of current service use may be helpful in ensuring appropriate targeting of services in the future.

Purpose – To describe current service use for CMP in a UK representative population. To examine predictors of CMP use.

Methods – Population questionnaire survey to 4100 patients registered with 17 Medical Research Council General Practice Research Framework general practices. The questionnaire collected data on demographics, presence of pain, pain location and severity, health related quality of life (HRQOL), care seeking and beliefs about pain. Univariate and multivariate analyses was undertaken to examine predictors of care seeking.

Results – Response rate of 61% of whom 47% reported CMP use. 77% consulted for their CMP; 60% mainstream medicine only, 17% mainstream and / or complementary and 22% no-one.

Patients who consulted complementary practitioners were more likely to be female, to be psychologically distressed, to work, to have left school aged over 16 and to have severe pain (p<0.05 in all cases). Working was independently associated with consulting a complementary practitioner (Exp (B) = 2.0, p=0.00) Conclusion – Complementary therapies are currently only available to those patients who can afford them. If such therapies become available on the NHS it may be important to provide patients and health professionals with appropriate information to inform their choices about these care options.


Source: Manual