The purpose of this study was to describe how patients with chronic pain experience physical activity and exercise (PA&E).
This qualitative interview study included 16 women and two men suffering from chronic pain and referred to a multimodal pain rehabilitation program. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the interviews.
One main theme emerged: “To overcome obstacles and to seize opportunities to be physically active despite chronic pain.” This main theme was abstracted from five themes: “Valuing a life with physical activity,” “Physical activity and exercise – before and after pain,” “A struggle – difficulties and challenges,” “The enabling of physical activity,” and “In need of continuous and active support.”
Although these participants valued PA&E, they seldom achieved desirable levels, and performance of PA&E was undermined by difficulties and failure. The discrepancy between the intention to perform physical activity and the physical activity accomplished could be related to motivation, self-efficacy, and action control. The participants desired high-quality interaction with healthcare providers. The findings can be applied to chronic pain rehabilitation that uses PA&E as treatment.