Download Full Text (1.1 MB)


Background: The purpose of this project is to advocate for occupational therapy’s presence in chronic pain programs. In a chronic pain setting occupational therapy currently focuses on enabling individuals to achieve satisfying performance in activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) despite pain and fatigue (Hill, 2016). Treatment interventions focus on activity management, problem solving, activity adaptation, planning/pacing, stress management, relaxation training, and coping skills training (Hill, 2016). Occupational therapy can provide individuals with chronic pain a more diverse and unique perspective on pain management. They can utilize their consideration of psychosocial factors and occupation focused background, to engage clients in more meaningful therapeutic sessions.

Objectives: The objectives of this project are to complete a needs assessment to identify where OT is currently not represented in this setting, identify the needs of those living with chronic pain and how OT can fulfill those needs, assess current chronic pain programs with and without OT, advocate for OT in chronic pain, and learn more about the ways in which occupational therapists contribute to the interdisciplinary pain team.

Methods: The methods in this study include a literature review of chronic pain conditions, involvement in chronic pain affiliated groups, learning more about advocacy and its components, completing a needs assessment for individuals living with chronic pain, interviewing both patients and healthcare professionals about their experience with or treating chronic pain, site observations, and involvement in advocacy groups and collaborative efforts.

Results: After the above methods were complete numerous themes appeared that highlighted the needs of individuals living with chronic pain and the systematic adjustments that need to be made in order to provide better care to these individuals. These themes included, a lack of occupation-based interventions, a limited number of holistic and client-centered pain management programs, barriers to occupational performance, limitations or loss of independence, limited knowledge of chronic pain interventions by healthcare professionals, and improvement in patient/caregiver education, with a focus on pain neuroscience.

Conclusion: These findings support occupational therapy’s distinct role in chronic pain management and demonstrate the need for continued advocacy in this setting. Through advocacy efforts, the increased use of the interdisciplinary collaboration framework, and updating current OT curriculum to include pain and pain management, occupational therapy is sure to increase its presence in the chronic pain setting.

Publication Date

Fall 12-9-2021


University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

Medical Subject Headings

Chronic Pain, Pain Management, Activities of Daily Living, Occupational Therapy, Needs Assessment


Occupational Therapy


Poster presented at the Fall 2021 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, December 9-10, 2021.

Advocating for Occupational Therapy’s Presence in Chronic Pain Programs