The experience of chronic severe pain in patients undergoing methadone maintenance treatment

Alison Karasz, Leah Zallman, Karina Berg, Marc Gourevitch, Peter Selwyn, Julia Arnstein

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Recent studies indicate that severe chronic pain is common among patients in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT), but no qualitative studies have examined such patients' experiences of pain and pain treatment. This study used qualitative methods to explore the experiences of MMT patients with chronic pain. Twelve patients screening positive for chronic severe pain on the Brief Pain Inventory were interviewed for the study. Results suggest that chronic severe pain has major consequences in the lives of methadone maintenance patients and may be linked to illegal drug use, social isolation, and role failure. A variety of barriers limited access to effective treatment. A common complaint with care was providers' lack of concern or inability to "listen." Patients who were satisfied with treatment focuses on the psychosocial dimensions of care. These preliminary results suggest that treatment approaches should emphasize emotional support, negotiation of explanatory models, and an emphasis on the psychosocial sequelae of pain. However, more research is needed to guide the development of effective treatment strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-525
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Pain treatment
  • chronic pain
  • methadone maintenance treatment
  • qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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