What is it that motivates our actions? As human beings, existing as part of complex societies, the actions we take are subject to multiple, often competing motives. Spanning non-conscious reflexes, cognitively derived choice as well as long- and short-term goals, our actions allow us to make sense of our environment. Pain disrupts action and hijacks our intentions. Whilst considered adaptive when temporary, pain that persists continues to interrupt and can threaten our ability to actively investigate a changing world.
This work is a narrative review.
Drawing upon three complementary theoretical approaches to pain: an embodied framework, a motivational approach and the avoidance-endurance model, this review places the relationship between pain, motivation
and action at its core, unpicking a dynamic process that can become stuck.
In taking a wide view of pain and action, we expose the nuances within drive to goal behaviour in the presence of pain. This has implications for the clinic, specifically in relation to assessing the multifactorial influences that shape action in pain. But it also seeks to go further, considering the broader environment in which we make decisions and the influence that other professionals, outside of typical healthcare roles, may play a part in the maintenance and resolution of pain.