Open Access Research article

Systematically searching for and assessing the literature for self-management of chronic pain: a lay users’ perspective

Pat Schofield1*, Blair H Smith2, Denis Martin3, Derek Jones4, Amanda Clarke4, Paul McNamee5, Ron Marsh5, Michael Morrison6, Rosemary Morrison6, Sheena Fowler6, Geraldine Anthony2 and Carrie Stewart5

Author Affiliations

1 University of Greenwich, School of Health & Social Care, Avery Hill Campus Eltham, London SE9 2UG, UK

2 Division of Population Health Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK

3 University of Teesside, Tees Valley, UK

4 Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK

5 University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK

6 Aberdeen (Older adults with an interest in pain management), Aberdeen, UK

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BMC Geriatrics 2014, 14:86  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-14-86

Published: 27 July 2014



The Engaging with older adults in the development of strategies for the self management of chronic pain (EOPIC) study aims to design and develop self management strategies to enable older adults to manage their own pain. Involving older adults in research into chronic pain management will better enable the identification and development of strategies that are more appropriate for their use, but how can perspectives really be utilised to the best possible outcomes?


Seven older adults were recruited through a local advertising campaign to take part. We also invited participants from the local pain services, individuals who had been involved in earlier phase of the EOPIC study and a previous ESRC funded project. The group undertook library training and research skills training to facilitate searching of the literature and identified sources of material. A grading tool was developed using perceived essential criteria identified by the older adults and material was graded according to the criteria within this scale.


Fifty-seven resources from over twenty-eight sources were identified. These materials were identified as being easily accessible, readable and relevant. Many of the web based materials were not always easy to find or readily available so they were excluded by the participants. All but one were UK based. Forty-four items were identified as meeting the key criteria for inclusion in the study. This included five key categories as follows; books, internet, magazines, leaflets, CD’s/Tapes.


This project was able to identify a number of exemplars of self management material along with some general rules regarding the categories identified. We must point out that the materials identified were not age specific, were often locally developed and would need to be adapted to older adults with chronic pain. For copyright issues we have not included them in this paper. The key message is really related to the format rather than the content. However, the group acknowledge that these may vary according to the requirements of each individual older adult and therefore recommend the development of a leaflet to help others in their search for resources. This leaflet has been developed as part of Phase IV of the EOPIC study.

Older adults; Literature for self-management of chronic pain; Strategies for managing chronic pain; Involving older adults in research