Affiliations: [a] School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
| [b] Department of Physiotherapy, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
| [c] Department of Pain Medicine, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
| [d] Department of Psychology, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
Corresponding author: Máire-Bríd Casey, School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: BACKGROUND:There is growing evidence to support the benefits of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for people with chronic pain. Despite this, there is limited qualitative research published in this field. PURPOSE:The aim of this qualitative study was to explore individuals’ perspectives related to ‘acceptance’, following participation in an eight-week multidisciplinary pain management programme (PMP) based on the psychological approach Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). METHODS:Twenty-six participants attended one of five focus groups. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were imported into NVivo 11 and were analysed using an interpretative phenomenological approach. RESULTS:Three broad themes emerged, representing different stages of acceptance: (1) perception of acceptance as a step towards better living with chronic pain, (2) contemplation of acceptance and (3) non-acceptance. The participants in this study who appeared to have reached a point of acceptance, or were contemplating acceptance, reported positive behaviour changes that led to enhanced fulfilment and quality of life. However not all participants believed that acceptance of chronic pain was possible. Factors emerging as relevant to participants’ perceptions of acceptance included attitudes towards finding a cure, self-identity, self-efficacy, contact with personal values, feelings of loss and perceived injustice. CONCLUSION:This qualitative study highlights the complexity of acceptance and provides new and unique insights in relation to the views of people with chronic pain on the concept of acceptance, following participation in a multidisciplinary ACT-based PMP.