A qualitative study of patients' perceptions and priorities when living with primary frozen shoulder

Susan Jones, Nigel Hanchard, Sharon Hamilton, Amar Rangan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: To elucidate the experiences and perceptions of people living with primary frozen shoulder and their priorities for treatment. Design: Qualitative study design using semistructured interviews. Setting: General practitioner (GP) and musculoskeletal clinics in primary and secondary care in one National Health Service Trust in England. Participants: 12 patients diagnosed with primary frozen shoulder were purposively recruited from a GP's surgery, community clinics and hospital clinics. Recruitment targeted the phases of frozen shoulder: pain predominant (n=5), stiffness predominant (n=4) and residual stiffness predominant following hospital treatment (n=2). One participant dropped out. Inclusion criteria: adult, male and female patients of any age, attending the clinics, who had been diagnosed with primary frozen shoulder. Results: The most important experiential themes identified by participants were: pain which was severe as well as inexplicable; inconvenience/disability arising from increasing restriction of movement (due to pain initially, gradually giving way to stiffness); confusion/anxiety associated with delay in diagnosis and uncertainty about the implications for the future; and treatment-related aspects. Participants not directly referred to a specialist (whether physiotherapist, physician or surgeon) wanted a faster, better-defined care pathway. Specialist consultation brought more definitive diagnosis, relief from anxiety and usually self-rated improvement. The main treatment priority was improved function, though there was recognition that this might be facilitated by relief of pain or stiffness. There was a general lack of information from clinicians about the condition with over-reliance on verbal communication and very little written information. Conclusions: Awareness of frozen shoulder should be increased among non-specialists and the best available information made accessible for patients. Our results also highlight the importance of patient participation in frozen shoulder research.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere003452
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2013


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