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Open Access A qualitative exploration of GPs’ perspectives on managing chronic nonspecific musculoskeletal pain in Australian general practice ‐ a focus group study

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC licence.

Objective: Chronic nonspecific musculoskeletal pain (CNMP) is a complex idiopathic condition that causes significant disruption to patients’ lives, their relationships, and functionality. The cause of CNMP is not fully understood, which makes diagnosis and management challenging. As general practitioners (GPs) are central to the management of chronic pain, their perspectives on managing CNMP are important.

Purpose: To explore the clinical reasoning GPs use when diagnosing and managing CNMP.

Methods: A qualitative study design using focus group discussion was conducted with Australian GPs. Five focus group discussion were conducted across Adelaide. All focus group discussions were audio-recorded, and transcripts were coded and analyzed thematically with the program NVivo.

Results: The main themes remained consistent across the five focus group discussion’s: the ambiguous cause of CNMP; sex differences; developing the “right strategy”; patient-centered care; and verifying vitamin D levels.

Conclusion: The findings show that GPs use a patient-centered approach tailored to individual patients’ medical history, physical examination findings, and psychosocial health. There was general concern about low levels of vitamin D in patients with CNMP, and vitamin D supplements were recommended if indicated by a patient’s history.
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Keywords: Qualitative research; chronic pain; focus group study; general practitioner

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2018

This article was made available online on 15 September 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "A qualitative exploration of GPs’ perspectives on managing chronic nonspecific musculoskeletal pain in Australian general practice – a focus group study".

More about this publication?
  • Family Medicine and Community Health (FMCH) is an open-access journal focusing on subjects that are common and relevant to family medicine/general practice and community health. The journal publishes relevant content across disciplines such as epidemiology, public health, social and preventive medicine, research and evidence based medicine, community health service, patient education and health promotion and health ethics. The journal has a specific focus on the management of chronic illness particularly diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, chronic heart failure, hypertension, bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease and common mental illness. FMCH is published by Compuscript on behalf of the Chinese General Practice Press

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