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



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.


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


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.


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.


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.

Calendario de la edición:
Volume Open
Temas de la revista:
Medicine, Basic Medical Science, other, Clinical Medicine, Pharmacy, Pharmacology