Study Finds Patients Feel Empowered By Interventions for Pain Relief Interview with:

Johan Hambraeus, MD
Board certified in anesthesiology, family medicine & Pain management
Department of Epidemiology and Global Health
Umeå University, Sweden  What is the background for this study?

Response: When working with interventional pain management a striking feature is that all procedures are painful. It is often discussed about sedation before procedures, but whether to provide sedation seems to be more based on the local tradition than on facts. And it is not seldom that patients describe that they have phobic fear of needles, but despite this they cope with the interventional pain management and all the painful procedures.

Therefore we wanted to understand how it is felt and how the patients describe their experiences. What are the main findings?

Response: The patients confirmed that the procedures are painful: “it is like torture” but they say that it still is worth it! And the main finding was that they described that they were empowered, which is the opposite of what they usually describe when searching help for their pain. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Interventional pain management might localize pain focuses that are treatable with improvement in health related quality of life as a result. But regardless of this, the close collaboration between physician and patient that is required for interventional pain management when searching for the pain focuses, can result in empowerment for the patients since they get to know and understand their problem and they are actively participating in the process of evaluating the test-blocks. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: A quantitative study to find out how many of the patients that experience empowerment would confirm that this is an important feature of the improved health related quality of life seen after interventional pain management – an improvement that is higher than what is seen after pain rehabilitation.

A qualitative interview study on patients that have been through pain rehabilitation programs would also be interesting, if the interview focused on the concept of empowerment. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This study was performed on one clinic performing interventional pain management, and two of the three researchers work clinically on the clinic. But it was an independent interviewer that performed the interviews and when giving feed-back to the subjects in the study to confirm the results, it was done by the supervising researcher that previously did not had any contact with the patients. And the reactions were like “I have nothing to add; it is amazing how well you have understood me”. For me the results have become an eye opener of the importance to involve the patients in the treatments given, and to listen to them. I just wish that colleagues both in Sweden and abroad would take that knowledge to heart.


Hambraeus, J., Hambraeus, K.S. & Sahlen, K. Patient perspectives on interventional pain management: thematic analysis of a qualitative interview study. BMC Health Serv Res 20604 (2020).

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