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Research: Occupation and Chronic Pain

Misericordia University Occupational Therapy graduate students recently completed research projects on the topic of occupation and chronic pain. The students conducted their research under the direction of Dr. Grace S. Fisher, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy. Abstracts of these and other CM occupational therapy research studies are available on the Research and Activities page (click here).

A summary of the occupation and chronic pain research investigations follows.

Lindsay Albright, Jackie Finelli, Lauren Levine, Colleen Rooney, and Jennifer Zanghi (CM class of '05) interviewed individuals with chronic pain about their lifestyles and involvement in activities. They used a grounded theory approach to construct a theory about the role of occupation in the life of the person with chronic pain. The theory they developed is called the Paradigm of Life, and a report of their study has been published in the June 2006 issue of the Californian Journal of Health Promotion, an on-line peer reviewed journal found at The Paradigm of Life illustrates the importance of occupational engagement for these individuals.

Occupational Therapy weekend college graduate students Camille Firpo, Linda Emerson, Jan Ptak, and Jen Wonn (CM class of '05) investigated the lived experience of people who have chronic pain. Their study illustrated how people cope with the challenges of this condition in their day to day lives. In the report of the study, to be published in 2007 in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, they present examples of how the people they interviewed adapted their lifestyles as a response to the restrictions of chronic pain. The study also highlighted the importance of family support for these individuals.

Carol Beckwith-Cohen, Stephanie Edwards, Chris Howe, Lakeisha Smith, and Trisha Sugrue (CM class of '06) developed and field-tested an occupation-based assessment for health care professionals who are working with clients who have chronic pain. Their assessment is called the Pain and Functional Performance Assessment Final Version (PFPA-FV) (click here to download the Assessment). Their field test indicated that persons with chronic pain encounter difficulties in performing their daily activities and occupations. Occupational therapists are encouraged to utilize the PFPA-FV with their clients who have chronic pain, and are asked to communicate their opinions of the assessment to Dr. Grace Fisher, at E-mail.

Diane Bristow, Lori Jandris, Ben Mast, and Bruce Vanluvender (CM class of '07) recently completed a Delphi survey to refine their newly-developed assessment called the Occupational Understanding of Challenges- Chronic Pain Questionnaire (the OUCH-CPQ.) (Click here to download the OUCH-CPQ for use in practice.) Please contact Dr. Fisher at with any comments or questions you may have about this instrument. .

Plans are underway for future student involvement in continuing this occupation and chronic pain research.