Dana Maki, a graduate student completing her PhD in Physiotherapy at King’s College London, held a “Pain Study Day” for physiotherapists with her PhD supervisor, Dr. Duncan Critchley, at Ahlia University in Bahrain on 13 December 2013 in collaboration with the Bahrain Physical Therapy Association (BPTA). The participants included physiotherapists from Bahrain’s Ministry of Health centers, Salmaniya Medical Complex, private clinics, as well as Ahlia University academic staff.
Popular concepts in Western healthcare regarding chronic pain management were introduced, including holistic treatments that take into account the psychological and social circumstances of patients, as well their physical symptoms.
“In western communities, physiotherapists and healthcare professionals have developed interventions for chronic pain that have a large psychological and social component, alongside the management of the physical symptoms like pain, sprains, stiffness, and limping,” says Dana. “The aim of the study day was to introduce the physiotherapists to some of the theories and evidence related to psychological and social issues that can contribute to pain or hinder improvement, such as depression and anxiety, social isolation, unemployment, and relationship problems. We also highlighted aspects of practical pain management which include patient communication, motivation and goal setting, and discussed clinical examples.”
Although many of the physiotherapists were familiar with the concepts that were discussed, they had not fully implemented them in practice says Dana. She explains that this might be due to cultural factors surrounding patients’ acceptability of healthcare professionals dealing with sensitive topics they considered private. However, she hopes the study day was able to give them ideas to improve their use of these new concepts and put the patients at ease.
The study day also introduced treatment methods to manage psychological issues and social issues that will in turn decrease the pain and disability of patients and lead to fewer visits to physiotherapists and eventually cut healthcare costs.
The topics discussed during the study day form a large component of Dana’s PhD study, including the latest research carried out in Bahrain with regards to this field.
“In the first few stages of my PhD study, I researched the psychological and social constructs commonly researched in non-Western communities. Next I cross-culturally adapted tools to measure those constructs in Arabic, which I won a prize for at the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) Conference last year. Thirdly, I used those tools to measure psychological and social factors experienced by chronic pain patients in Bahrain. We disseminated those results to the physiotherapists at the Pain Study Day.”
Dana will be using all this information to develop interventions based on these theories, which she will be testing this summer.