Common reported barriers and facilitators for self-management in adults with chronic musculoskeletal pain: a systematic review of qualitative studies

Review written by Dr Sandy Hilton info

Key Points

  1. Teaching strategies for self-management is not sufficient for long-term independence.
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Chronic musculoskeletal pain remains a leading cause of global disability. Self-treatment is encouraged to give people the ability to manage or eliminate their own symptoms. There are multiple tools available for teaching and promoting self-management including physical activity, pain education, lifestyle changes, and mindfulness activities. Techniques like pacing, reconceptualizing pain, stress mitigation, body awareness/control, and decreasing catastrophizing are included in many of these techniques across disciplines.

In the enthusiasm to promote self-efficacy and promote independence in managing pain, there is a push to teaching strategies (1). Strategies alone are insufficient, and this paper explored common impeding and facilitating factors of self-management from the patient perspective. The studies in this review included strategies used by patients and interventions that aided patients.

Chronic musculoskeletal pain remains a leading cause of global disability.
This review supports the need for establishing the skills and confidence of a person in their own care.


This paper involved electronic search of peer reviewed qualitative or mixed-method studies between 2009 and May 2020 on self-management of musculoskeletal pain. Studies were excluded for being only from the practitioner’s perspective. Studies were appraised with CASP (Critical Appraisal Skills

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