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Scandinavian Journal of Pain

Official Journal of the Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

Editor-in-Chief: Breivik, Harald

CiteScore 2018: 0.85

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.494
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.427

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Volume 19, Issue 4


Improving patient–practitioner interaction in chronic pain rehabilitation

The merits of a discursive psychological approach

Baukje B. Stinesen
  • Corresponding author
  • Research Group Cross-Media Communication in the Public Domain, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Research School CAPHRI, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Petra Sneijder
  • Research Group Cross-Media Communication in the Public Domain, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Albère J.A. Köke
  • Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Research School CAPHRI, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  • Adelante Centre of Expertise in Rehabilitation and Audiology, Hoensbroek, The Netherlands
  • Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Health and Technology, Heerlen, The Netherlands
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Rob J.E.M. Smeets
  • Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Research School CAPHRI, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  • CIR Revalidatie, Eindhoven/Zwolle, The Netherlands
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2019-07-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2019-0034


Stimulating patients to approach their pain from a biopsychosocial perspective is central to chronic pain rehabilitation. However, conversations between patients and their healthcare professionals about the social and psychological factors that may contribute to the continuation of pain and disability can be challenging. The current scientific literature does not sufficiently pinpoint the difficulties in patient–practitioner interaction on chronic pain, and it falls short of answering the question of how a joint exploration of the social and psychological factors that might be involved in the patient’s pain and evolving disability can be enhanced. In this theoretical article, we introduce discursive psychology as a potentially valuable research perspective to gain a better understanding of the difficulties in patient–practitioner interaction in the context of chronic pain rehabilitation. Discursive psychology focuses on features of people’s talk (e.g. that of patients and practitioners) and is concerned with the social practices that people perform as part of a specific interactional context. In this paper, we provide an introduction to the main theoretical notions of discursive psychology. We illustrate how discursive psychological analyses can inform our understanding of the specific sensitivities in conversations between patients with chronic pain and their practitioners. Finally, we address how a better understanding of these sensitivities offers a gateway towards improving these conversations.

Keywords: chronic pain; patient–practitioner interaction; discursive psychology


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About the article

Received: 2019-02-20

Revised: 2019-04-01

Accepted: 2019-04-15

Published Online: 2019-07-12

Published in Print: 2019-10-25

Authors’ statements

Research funding: Authors state no funding involved.

Conflict of interest: Authors state no conflict of interest.

Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individuals in this study.

Ethical approval: The research has been approved by an accredited Research Ethics Committee: METC Z, The Netherlands (reference number: 17-N-160).

Citation Information: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, Volume 19, Issue 4, Pages 843–853, ISSN (Online) 1877-8879, ISSN (Print) 1877-8860, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2019-0034.

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©2019 Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. All rights reserved..Get Permission

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