Mixed Methods Study of Patient and Primary Care Provider Perceptions of Chronic Pain Treatment

Karen L. Roper, Jarred Jones, Courtney Rowland, Neena Thomas-Eapen, Roberto Cardarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: A mixed-method study involving patient focus groups and survey of primary care providers (PCPs) sought to compare perspectives about chronic pain (CP) and its treatment. Our goal was to identify needs and barriers for facilitating patient-centered care. Methods: Two focus groups of CP patients from a single academic medical center explored interactions with PCPs and their understandings, experiences, and expectations of CP treatment. They were also asked their opinions about self-assessment/communication tools. We compared themes with survey data from two PCP research networks. Results: CP patients understand opioid risks and fear PCP judgement and condescension, while sensing PCP fear and avoidance of opioid prescribing. PCPs are dissatisfied with their ability to provide optimal CP care, despite feeling that patients are generally satisfied with their clinic visits. Evaluation tools, especially assessment of functional activities, are favorably viewed by all, but deemed time prohibitive. Conclusion: Patients’ understanding of opioid risks, desire for attention on functional goals and behavioral treatment may be greater than PCPs perceive. Such gaps in understanding and attitudes, if recognized, could support high-quality communication and interventional strategies. Practice Implications: These findings guide patient-PCP communication toward alignment of treatment goals and enhanced coordination of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-594
Number of pages10
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitudes
  • Chronic Pain
  • Chronic Pain/therapy
  • Clinical Decision-Making
  • Communication Barriers
  • Decisions about care
  • Doctor-patient Communication
  • Health Knowledge
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Opioids
  • Pain Management
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Practice
  • Primary Care
  • Provider-patient relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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