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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Mar 2024 - 7 Mar 2024

2024 Mar 06



“I wish I knew then what I know now” – pain science education concepts important for female persistent pelvic pain: a reflexive thematic analysis.


Mardon AK, Chalmers KJ, Heathcote LC, Curtis LA, Freedman L, Malani R, Parker R, Neumann PB, Moseley GL, Leake HB


Pain science education (PSE) provides people with an understanding of “how pain works” grounded in the biopsychosocial model of pain; it has been demonstrated to improve outcomes in musculoskeletal pain conditions. Preliminary evidence suggests PSE may be effective for female individuals with persistent pelvic pain, but how the content of PSE needs to be modified for this group remains to be determined. A reflexive thematic analysis of qualitative data was performed to identify PSE concepts that female individuals with persistent pelvic pain consider important and why. Twenty individual, semistructured interviews were conducted with adult females who had engaged with PSE and had self-identified as having “improved” pelvic pain. Most participants had been diagnosed with endometriosis (n = 16). Four themes were generated capturing PSE concepts considered important by female individuals with “improved” pelvic pain: (1) “A sensitised nervous system leads to overprotective pain” validated their pelvic pain as being real; (2) “Pain does not have to mean the body is damaged (although sometimes it does)” provided reassurance that pelvic pain does not mean their condition is worsening; (3) “How I think, feel, and ‘see’ my pain can make it worse” enabled participants to find optimal ways to manage their pain; and (4) “I can change my pain… slowly” provided hope that pelvic pain can improve and empowered them to pursue pain improvement as a viable goal. This study generated 4 PSE learning concepts that were important to female individuals with improved pelvic pain and may be incorporated into PSE curricula for female individuals with pelvic pain.