Non-specific low back pain is a highly prevalent and debilitating condition. With no known organic cause, it often recurs and can become a persistent, chronic problem which remains recalcitrant to available treatments. This poses a conundrum for healthcare professionals and back pain patients alike and has led to calls for a biopsychosocial model of care. Improved management of this patient population is documented as a realistic and important quest. To achieve this, an increased understanding of the patient in pain is needed, with a focus on the individuals' beliefs and perceptions of their pain, as these factors play a major influential role on coping behaviour, adjustment and outcome. In light of this, the primary aim of this study is to contribute to the knowledge of disability by qualitatively investigating over a period of time, the beliefs and experiences of a purposively selected group of chronic non-specific low back pain patients consulting in primary care. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used for this purpose. A secondary aim is to ascertain the extent to which the Self-regulation Model of Illness (SRM) can account for the pain beliefs, perceptions and behaviour of this patient population. With respect to the primary aim of the study the themes, 'the nature of low back pain and impact on self, 'low back pain in a social context YYwI orry and fear of the future', "uncertainty', 'achieving acceptance', and 'the negative impact of pain catastrophising, emerged from in-depth analysis of the baseline and follow-up interviews from the five study participants. In terms of the secondary aim, the participants' pain perceptions could be mapped onto the SRM but a number of complexities emerged that are not explained by the SRM as it currently stands. The impact that 'uncertainty'. 'comorbidityl, 'significant othe. rs', and 'acceptance'had on pain beliefs and behaviour could also not be fully accounted for by the model, highlighting a need for further research in this area.
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