Activity Pacing in Chronic Pain Management: One Aim, but Which Method? Part One: Introduction and Literature Review

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People with chronic pain often adopt activity patterns that can exacerbate their pain and undermine their quality of life. Activity pacing is considered an essential component of occupational therapy in pain management and other clinical areas to counteract the overactivity-underactivity cycle.

Part one of this paper provides an introduction and literature review on the subject of activity pacing in chronic pain management. Based on case histories, the psychosocial issues arising from underactivity or overactivity, or a combination of the two, are explained. It is demonstrated that activity pacing is ill-defined and subject to discrepancies in practice. In particular, guidance regarding quota-based practice to prevent pain-contingency remains unresolved. Part one concludes that research is needed to clarify both the theory and the practice of activity pacing. Part two of this paper will present the outcomes of a national occupational therapy survey on activity pacing.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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