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Table 2 Non-pharmacological approaches to pain treatment

From: A qualitative investigation of the roles and perspectives of older patients with advanced cancer and their family caregivers in managing pain in the home

Pain treatment approach Illustrative responses
Moving/changing position "Well I will get up and move around and if it is gone within a few minutes" (P 2).
  "I would have to lift both his legs at one time raised them up to put him in prop him up with the pillows it was a bad time you are rubbing things on it hoping that rubbing this medication will help it and he was only on anti-inflammatory than he wasn’t on painkillers" (FCG 10).
  "What I do find, sometimes, if I have been sitting for a while … when I first get up .. it is like a cramp. Then after I walk around for a few minutes then it goes off" (P 13).
  "Soon as I change of position, very often, it goes. I just have to lie down, stretch out then it goes. Just to change position helps me a lot" (P 17).
Not moving/resting "It can get very sore but I can go and sit down and in five minutes it is fine" (P 5).
  "There are medications but before they take effect.. I try to sit as still as I can, or go lay down.. just resting helps" (P 12).
Distraction "I try to go to seek a distraction. Now I have something to read" (P 3).
  "While we are talking… I forget everything. Even if I have pain. I forget" (P 6).
  "I try to keep my mind busy.. sometimes I read .. or I watch TV (P 18).
  "Listening to music… working on the computer. I’m quite good at it. And.. categorizing the thousands and thousands of slides and pictures I have taken over the years…That is the way I cope with my pain" (P 15).
  Recently what helped me a lot me. I began again to knit. I am a big, big knitter, I made absolutely extraordinary things… and then, so that occupies me" (P 9).
Talking/being with others "When I have somebody with me, let’s say that the pain is shared. Everything is shared for me and I am not sick. I see myself well when I am with someone" (P 3).
  "I think that, that I am a painkiller for her. Because sometime she panics and then to see me there, not in panic, it helps her" (FCG 17).
Heat/cold/massage "When she has pain in her leg, her right leg I think, we can apply ice for the pains she has" (FCG 3).
  "I get relief if I put hot water on it and when I am showering" (P 6).
  "Rubbing things on it sometimes helps" (P 18).
  "I will rub it a bit, but as soon as I move, it goes away" (P 12).
Equipment "We got a hospital bed. That has been his Godsend.. That mattress helped his pain level .. it has a nice thick foam" (FCG 2).
  "That chair has been great for her because it is automatic she can lift her legs up, get the circulation up and it helps with the pain" (FCG 4).
Humour/outlook "Well I try to think positive.. that sometimes helps" (P 12).
  "My sense of humour always … laughing or watching other people laugh. Seems to reduce the pain for some reason" (P 15).
Faith "What helps me? My faith" (P 16).
  "If I can’t fall asleep, I have the time to do some prayers and finally the medication is going to take effect" (P 9).