Young people's experiences of persistent musculoskeletal pain, needs, gaps and perceptions about the role of digital technologies to support their co-care: A qualitative study
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Objective: To investigate young people's experiences of persistent musculoskeletal pain, including care needs and current service gaps as well as perceptions about the role of digital technologies to support their co-care. Methods: A qualitative study employing two independent data collection modes: in-depth individual semistructured interviews and focus groups. Setting: Community settings throughout Australia. Participants: Participants were included if they had experienced persistent musculoskeletal pain of >3-month duration with an average of =3 on the visual analogue scale over the preceding 3 months, including non-specific conditions (eg, low back pain) and specific conditions (eg, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and other systemic arthritides), with/without pre-existing or current diagnosed mental health conditions. 23 young people (87.0% women; mean (SD) age: 20.8 (2.4) years) from across 6 Australian jurisdictions participated. Almost two-thirds of participants with persistent musculoskeletal pain reported comorbid mental health conditions. Main outcome measures: Inductive and deductive approaches to analyse and derive key themes from verbatim transcripts. Results: Participants described their daily experiences of living with persistent musculoskeletal pain, their fears and the challenges imposed by the invisibility of pain, and the two-way relationship between their pain and mental well-being. A lack of relevant and accessible information and resources tailored to young people's unique needs, integrated and youth-relevant healthcare services and adequately skilled healthcare practitioners were identified as key care gaps. Participants strongly advocated for the use of digital technologies to improve access to age-appropriate resources and support for co-care. Conclusions: Young people living with persistent musculoskeletal pain described the absence of ageappropriate pain services and clearly articulated their perceptions on the role of, and opportunities provided by, digital technologies to connect with and support improved pain healthcare. Innovative and digitally-enabled models of pain care are likely to be helpful for this group.
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