Development of a patient-reported outcome measure for neck pain in military aircrew: qualitative interviews to inform design and content

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Primary Care Rehabilitation Facility
  • Centre for Spines and Upper Quadrant Rehabilitation


INTRODUCTION: The prevalence of flight-related neck pain is 70% in UK fast jet pilots; much higher than the general population. The Aircrew Conditioning Programme and direct access physiotherapy exist to minimise the impact on military capability, but a population specific patient-reported outcome measure (PROM) is required to investigate the effectiveness of these. We aimed to explore the experiences of flight-related neck pain to inform the content validity and development of a population specific PROM.

METHODS: Qualitative semistructured interviews combining phenomenological and grounded theory methods, reported using Consolidated criteria for Reporting Qualitative research guidelines. A purposive sample of 10 fast jet pilots with neck pain was recruited. Concept elicitation interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim along with field notes. Data analysis involved subject and methodological expertise used a concept elicitation approach.

RESULTS: Participants included 10 male fast jet pilots, age 34.7 years. Identified themes included: (1) physical symptoms associated with flying activities; (2) occupational effects revealed modifications of flying, or 'suboptimal' performance owing to neck pain; (3) psychological effects revealed feelings or worry and (4) social and activity effects showed impact on out of work time.

CONCLUSION: Population-specific occupational, psychological and social factors should be considered alongside physical symptoms when managing neck pain in military aircrew. Findings support the development of a PROM specifically designed for military aircrew with neck pain.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere039488
JournalBMJ open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2021