Open Access

“It's a way of life”: Results from the Perceptions of Pain in Haemophilia study


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Introduction

Pain is recognised as a subjective phenomenon, often defined as ‘whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever the experiencing person says it does’. Pain is a critical aspect of life for many people with haemophilia (PWH) but is under-recognised and inconsistently managed by clinicians. As haemophilia management moves towards non-factor-based treatments which may normalise life experience, it is unclear how this will impact on the experience and management of pain.

Aims

The Perceptions of Pain in Haemophilia study aimed to identify the impact of pain on men with haemophilia in the UK.

Methods

The study used mixed qualitative research methods (paper-based questionnaires and focus group interviews). Eligible PWH aged >18 years were invited to participate in a focus group to discuss pain, assessment and management. Each focus group discussion was recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically.

Results

Eighteen participants (13 haemophilia A (12 severe) and 5 severe haemophilia B) age range 18–58 years (median 32.5 years) joined focus groups conducted using an online video platform. The majority (95%) were treated with prophylaxis and reported few recent bleeds. Three main themes emerged: the impact of pain, managing pain, and factors influencing the experience of pain. Participants connected their earliest experiences of pain with childhood; it impacted their mental health and wellbeing, daily habits, routines, sports, hobbies, social life, work and education. Participants recognised the difference between the pain of acute bleeds and arthritic pain. Many did not like taking strong analgesics due to side-effects and concerns around addiction. Participants doubted the value of pain scales and noted a lack of empathy and understanding among health care professionals (HCPs), but valued physiotherapists. Participants recognised the value of talking about the negative impact of their pain experiences; however, they reported that family members, who often provided the most support, could not always truly understand their pain.

Conclusion

Pain is ‘normal’ for PWH, who adopt it into part of their everyday life experience. HCPs are ideally placed to impact this experience but seem to lack insight as to the extent of pain and how to manage it beyond prescribing stronger analgesia. The social and psychological implications of chronic pain should be better addressed by HCPs. This includes being cognisant that new therapeutic options will not resolve old pain.

eISSN:
2055-3390
Language:
English
Publication timeframe:
1 time per year
Journal Subjects:
Medicine, Basic Medical Science, other, Clinical Medicine, Pharmacy, Pharmacology