The development of a social support programme for families of adults living with chronic pain.
Chronic pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience which persists beyond the normal tissue healing time of more than 3 months. Chronic pain affects between one third and one half of the adult population in the United Kingdom. There is currently no cure for chronic pain, however, the appropriate education, management and support can significantly reduce the disabling effects of chronic pain. Adults with chronic pain whose families do not share an understanding of the condition and the impact it can have on one’s functional ability often describe their families as significant barriers to the management of their condition. Families without this shared understanding often impact on the adult’s social connectedness and inflict negative effects on their pain intensity and behaviours. Family involvement in pain management programmes can help family members to develop a shared understanding of chronic pain, as well as improving communication within the family, which in turn helps families to manage the condition effectively together. However, within Scotland’s specialist NHS pain clinics, there is currently no classes or programmes which offer family involvement. Working with professionals specialising within NHS pain clinics, the author proposes the development of a programme offering support and education and support for the families of adults living with chronic pain, which will be run in conjunction with a current NHS pain management programme. An occupational therapist will facilitate the programme and offer knowledge of chronic pain as a condition, advice on how to physically and emotionally support adults with chronic pain in addition to advice for carer support. The aim being family members will be able to better support adults self-manage their chronic pain and improve their quality of life following their participation in the programme.