All About the Stanford Chronic Pain Self-Management Workshop

by Celeste Cooper, RN Health Professional

“Chronic Pain Self-Management, Stanford Program (Stanford CPSMP), offers tips, techniques, and tools for everyone regardless of ability/pain level. We face choices every day; some are basic choices, such as whether we get up or stay in bed. We also make a choice to be an active manager or passive manager of our condition. I KNOW the Stanford CPSMP works because I LIVE IT every day. Having the right tools allows me to participate in life rather than watching it go by.” ~ Orvie Prewitt

Orvie Prewitt is the “Program Coordinator” for the Kansas City Regional Arthritis Center (KC-RAC) and she is a person living with pain and other chronic illness. The KC-RAC is one of Missouri’s seven Regional Arthritis Centers (RACs), which are unique to the United States. They provide programs and services through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Council on Aging.

About the Program

Offered in the United States and Canada, the Chronic Pain Self-Management Program ( CPSMP) was developed by Sandra LeFort, PhD, MN, RN in 1996 at McGill University in Montreal and later updated at Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, with Lisa Cardas, RN of Toronto, Ontario. The CPSMP was developed in conjunction with Dr. Kate Lorig and the staff of the Stanford Patient Education Research Center. It was revised in 2008; a new Chronic Pain Workbook was written. It was revised again in 2015 when the book Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Pain was written to accompany the program.

The Program as a CPSMP Participant

Orvie says her personal goals are to help those of us who live with chronic pain, including herself, and that she learns something new every time she co-leads a CPSMP. She says the program/workshop is very interactive and allows everyone to share information and that it is informative, thorough, and stimulating.

When the Workshop Meets

  • Once a week for six weeks

  • Sessions last for two to two and one-half hours

Included in the Workshop

  • Techniques for dealing with problems, such as frustration, fatigue, isolation, and poor sleep

  • Appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance

  • Appropriate use of medications

  • Communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals

  • Nutrition

  • Pacing activity and rest

  • How to evaluate new treatments

  • Materials participants keep for their home use include the Chronic Pain Workbook, “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions,” book, and Moving Easy CD

Your leader will consider certain things for the venue, such as comfort and accessibility and special accommodations.

Homework includes suggested reading, but it is not mandatory since this is a self-management class.

Added Benefits of the Workshop

  • A buddy system is started the 2nd session of the CPSMP

  • Staying in touch is encouraged after the CPSMP *However, since this is a self-management program, Stanford will not allow “Leaders” to collect contact information to share, but participants can, if desired.

Orvie tells us that participants are staying in touch. I believe having someone who understands the challenges we face and has learned the same new skills is an important for maintaining forward momentum.

“Self-management is a key component that enhances the medical care we receive.” ~Orvie Prewitt

Finding a Workshop in Your Area

For KC-RAC patients can find a workshop listed online at Click on “Find a Class,” then scroll down and click on “Kansas City.”

Outside of Missouri.

If you cannot find a program in your area, become a facilitator, approach various healthcare organizations, and share what you have learned about the Stanford Chronic Pain Self-management Program. Community education is important, and if any of the “Self Management,” programs are offered in your area, Stanford offers cross training.

Program Evaluation

To date, the program has been delivered to hundreds of individuals with chronic pain. And, Orvie says that like the other Stanford self-management programs, the CPSMP has been rigorously evaluated in two randomized clinical trials funded by Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and that the program meets the intended goals for improving chronic pain by self-management. She says, “If participants utilize any of the tips, tools, and techniques provided, they improve their ability to manage pain, interpersonal relationships, decision making, and there overall quality of life.”


Orvie tells us, “I am constantly reminded I have a responsibility to be an active self-manager if I want to have the best quality of life. I find strength from others and it feels really good to see a participant have that ‘aha’ moment when they realize there is something they can do, be it ever so small, to help themselves.”

I asked Orvie if she could pick three special things from the workshop, what they would be. She said,


“I use them not only for my health condition, but in my everyday life as well.”

Celeste Cooper, RN
Meet Our Writer
Celeste Cooper, RN

Celeste Cooper, R.N., is a freelance writer focusing on chronic pain and fibromyalgia. She is lead author of Integrative therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain and the Broken Body, Wounded Spirit: Balancing the See-Saw of Chronic Pain book series. She enjoys her family, writing and advocating, photography, and nature. Connect with Celeste through Twitter @PainedInkSlayer.