Building partnerships in pain management

Patient involvement in medical practice has been gaining attention in healthcare. It’s implementation remains limited. This project contributes to a better understanding of the functioning of participation in medicine.



A 'fundamental change has been taking place in human and helping services in recent decades' (Beresford & McLaughlin 2021): the movement for public and patient involvement. E.g., shared decision-making in consultations is an emerging issue in health care research. Yet, much remains unknown, despite the past two decades’ increased scholarly attention. Positive connections between patient participation and outcomes are reported but not uncontested. E.g., studies show that patient participation increases the understanding of information, adherence to treatment and patient satisfaction. But they also indicate complex and even adverse connections between patient participation and outcomes. With respect to the practical doing of shared decision-making, a better understanding of the roles of various kinds of expertise (medical, experiential etc.) as well as differing concepts and beliefs in medical consultations could be fruitful to define effective tactics to build joint knowledge bases for shared decision-making.

Course of action

Four steps will be conducted: 1) assess the empirical evidence for the impact of participatory medicine in pain care, 2) identify communication factors that help establishing partnerships between patients and medical practitioners in the therapy of chronic pain, 3) co-create an intervention with pain patients and health care professionals to implement the research findings and 4) develop a research design to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention


Two products will be developed: 1) a journal article presenting the findings of the literature review and 2) a ready-to-implement intervention and evaluation design.

Looking ahead

The intervention will be implemented at the Schmerzzentrum Insel as part of the project 'Prevention in Pain Chronification', funded by Gesundheitsförderung Schweiz (2023-2026).

This project contributes to the following SDGs

  • 3: Good health and well-being