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The Need to Say More: A Qualitative Analysis of Added Free Text to Chronic Pain Patient Intake Packages

  • Kayla Kilborn
    Affiliations
    Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
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  • Jordana L Sommer
    Affiliations
    Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
  • Kristin Reynolds
    Affiliations
    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

    Department of Psychiatry, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
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  • Rachel Roy
    Affiliations
    Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
  • Renée El-Gabalawy
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to Renée El-Gabalawy, Ph.D., AE-211, Harry Medovy House, 671 William Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3E0Z2
    Affiliations
    Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

    Department of Clinical Health Psychology, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

    Department of Psychiatry, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
    Search for articles by this author
Published:September 15, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmn.2022.08.007

      Abstract

      Background

      Many outpatient chronic pain clinics administer extensive patient intake questionnaires to understand patients’ pain and how it impacts their lives. At our institution's pain clinic, many patients include free text in these predominantly closed-ended questionnaires, but little is known about the content categories included in this free text.

      Aim

      This study examined free text entries on chronic pain patient intake questionnaires.

      Method

      We analyzed 270 occurrences of free text across 43 patient intake questionnaires of people living with chronic pain using a qualitative content analytic approach.

      Results

      We identified two overarching thematic categories of free text: (1) what they say (characterizes the topic of the free text); and (2) why they say it (characterizes perceived limitations of the patient intake questionnaire format). We also documented the frequency highlighting how often themes and their associated sub-themes (detailed below) were indicated. Within the What they say category, three main themes emerged: (1) health (34.9%; e.g., pain); (2) health service use (27.9%; e.g., medication); and (3) psychosocial factors (20.9%; e.g., relationships). Within the Why they say it category, four main themes emerged: (1) adding information (86.0%; e.g., elaborates/contextualizes); (2) narrow response options (65.1%; e.g., varies); (3) problems with the question (18.6%; e.g., not applicable); and (4) response error (4.7%; e.g., answers incorrectly/misinterprets question).

      Conclusions

      People living with chronic pain appear motivated to add additional, unprompted information to their patient intake questionnaires. The results from this study may inform changes to chronic pain patient intake questionnaires which could facilitate improvements in chronic pain patient-health care provider communication.

      Keywords

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