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A qualitative exploration of GPs’ perspectives on managing chronic nonspecific musculoskeletal pain in Australian general practice – a focus group study
  1. Manasi Gaikwad1,
  2. Simon Vanlint1,
  3. Paul Aylward2 and
  4. Nigel Stocks1
  1. 1. Discipline of General Practice, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  2. 2. Health Sciences Building (2.27), Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  1. Corresponding author : Manasi Gaikwad, Discipline of General Practice, University of Adelaide, 178 North Terrace, Level 11, Adelaide, SA 5006, Australia, E-mail: manasi.gaikwad{at}


Objective Chronic nonspecific musculoskeletal pain (CNMP) is a complex idiopathic condition that causes significant disruption to patients’ lives, their relationships, and functionality. The cause of CNMP is not fully understood, which makes diagnosis and management challenging. As general practitioners (GPs) are central to the management of chronic pain, their perspectives on managing CNMP are important.

Purpose To explore the clinical reasoning GPs use when diagnosing and managing CNMP.

Methods A qualitative study design using focus group discussion was conducted with Australian GPs. Five focus group discussion were conducted across Adelaide. All focus group discussions were audio-recorded, and transcripts were coded and analyzed thematically with the program NVivo.

Results The main themes remained consistent across the five focus group discussion’s: the ambiguous cause of CNMP; sex differences; developing the “right strategy”; patient-centered care; and verifying vitamin D levels.

Conclusion The findings show that GPs use a patient-centered approach tailored to individual patients’ medical history, physical examination findings, and psychosocial health. There was general concern about low levels of vitamin D in patients with CNMP, and vitamin D supplements were recommended if indicated by a patient’s history.

  • Qualitative research
  • focus group study
  • general practitioner
  • chronic pain

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License (CC BY-NC 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See

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