The effect of occupational engagement on lifestyle in adults living with chronic pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Svetlana Solgaard Nielsen, Søren Thorgaard Skou, Anette Enemark Larsen, Alessio Bricca, Jens Søndergaard, Jeanette Reffstrup Christensen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftReviewpeer review


Background. Healthy lifestyle is important to decrease health risks in individuals living with chronic pain. From an occupational therapy perspective, human health and lifestyle are linked to occupational engagement in meaningful everyday activities. This study is aimed at investigating the effect of including occupational engagement in chronic pain interventions on lifestyle. Methods. In this systematic review (PROSPERO reg. CRD42020159279), we included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on interventions involving occupational engagement (i.e., occupational performance based on involvement, choice, positive meaning, and commitment) and assessing modifiable lifestyle factors: physical activity, body anthropometrics, alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, and sleep. We sought the databases Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Cochrane, Scopus, Web of Science, OTseeker,, OpenGrey, and the web engine Google Scholar and citations and references of relevant publications. We evaluated methodological quality with the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool 2.0, determined the overall evidence certainty using the GRADE methodology, and performed meta-analysis when two or more trials reported on the outcomes. Results. Of the 9526 items identified, 286 were full text screened. We included twelve articles with eleven RCTs comprising 995 adults and assessing physical activity, sleep quality, stress, and Body Mass Index. Sufficient data for meta-analysis was only available for physical activity and sleep quality. The meta-analysis suggested a moderate increase in physical activity after behavioral interventions for fibromyalgia and musculoskeletal pain (SMD=0.69 (0.29; 1.09)) and a small increase in sleep quality up to 6 months after multidisciplinary self-management of fibromyalgia (SMD=0.35 (95% CI 0.08; 0.61)). The overall certainty of the evidence was deemed low. Conclusion. Including occupational engagement in chronic pain interventions may increase short-term physical activity and long-term sleep quality. Due to the few available RCTs including occupational engagement in chronic pain treatment for adults living with chronic pain, further high-quality RCTs are needed and will likely change the conclusion.

TidsskriftOccupational Therapy International
StatusUdgivet - 2022


  • Sundhed, ernæring og livskvalitet
  • Sygdom, sundhedsvidenskab og sygepleje


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