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What Motivates Engagement in Work and Other Valued Social Roles Despite Persistent Back Pain?

Abstract

Purpose The prognosis of persistent back pain is variable, with some individuals adjusting poorly and others continuing to actively engage in work and other valued social roles. The aim of this study was to better understand why some individuals, despite persistent back pain, continue to actively engage in work and other valued social roles. Methods Individuals with persistent back pain, who were participating in their regular duties as a full-time employee, homemaker, student or any combination of these, were recruited from a multidisciplinary pain centre and orthopedic physical therapy clinics in Alberta, Canada. A qualitative study was conducted using semi-structured interviews of 15 participants and a thematic analysis to analyze the data. Results There were two motivators identified for participating in the work role: (1) participation formed part of the participant’s self-schema (a cognitive framework that includes one’s beliefs about oneself) and (2) participation made it possible to achieve a valued outcome. Conclusions Further understanding of important motivators for maintaining engagement in work and other valued social roles despite persistent back pain can help inform the development of more successful disability and pain management programs.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the study participants and clinic staff who graciously volunteered their time.

Funding

Funding for this study was received from the Department of Physical Therapy of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta.

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Correspondence to Ashley B. McKillop.

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McKillop, A.B., Carroll, L.J., Dick, B.D. et al. What Motivates Engagement in Work and Other Valued Social Roles Despite Persistent Back Pain?. J Occup Rehabil 30, 466–474 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-020-09875-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-020-09875-1

Keywords

  • Back pain
  • Participation
  • Motivation
  • Social roles
  • Qualitative