Participants' unspoken thoughts and feelings negatively influence the therapeutic alliance; a qualitative study in a multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation setting

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PURPOSE: This study aimed to explore factors that influence participants' perceptions of the therapeutic alliance with healthcare professionals; their participation in the alliance; and their commitment to treatment in a multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation setting.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A qualitative research-design was used and 26 participants in a multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation program were interviewed in-depth.

RESULTS: Initially, participants reported to be satisfied with their healthcare professionals. After deeper reflection on the therapeutic alliance, several unspoken thoughts and feelings and relational ruptures emerged. Almost all participants mentioned a history of disappointing and fragmented healthcare, and they reported on how this affected their cognitions, perceptions, and beliefs about the current program. Participants felt insufficiently empowered to voice their concerns and regularly chose to avoid confrontation by not discussing their feelings. They felt a lack of ownership of their problems and did not experience the program as person-centered.

CONCLUSIONS: Several factors were found that negatively influence the quality of therapeutic alliance (agreement on bond) and efficacy of the treatment plan (agreement on goals and tasks). To improve outcomes of pain rehabilitation, healthcare professionals should systematically take into account the perceptions and needs of participants, and focus more on personalized collaboration throughout the program offered.Implications for rehabilitationDifferences in perceptions and experiences of pain, together with differences in beliefs about the causes of pain, negatively influence the therapeutic alliance.When participants and healthcare professionals operate from different paradigms, it is important that they negotiate these differences.From the perspective of participants, a clear-cut organization of healthcare that encourages collaboration is required.It is important to focus on personalized collaboration from the start and during treatment, and to recognize and discuss disagreement on diagnosis and treatment plans.During this collaboration, healthcare professionals should systematically take into account the perceptions and needs of the participants.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1-11
Aantal pagina's11
TijdschriftDisability and Rehabilitation
Nummer van het tijdschrift18
Vroegere onlinedatum10-mei-2021
StatusPublished - 2022

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