Online Tools Help Manage Pain
A new study published in the journal Pain suggests that web-based pain management tutorials may help chronic pain patients deal with their symptoms better and ultimately decrease their visits to the doctor.
Researchers at Macquarie University in New South Wales recruited 490 patients online who had seen a doctor to assess their pain within the past three months, had no psychotic illnesses or severe depression and had regular access to a computer and the internet. Participants were then divided into one of three treatment groups to receive the web-based tutorials--one which had regular contact with clinicians during the study, another with optional contact with providers and a third with no contact. During that time, people in the treatment groups also had five web-based lessons that focused on pain management using cognitive behavior therapy techniques.
The results at the end of eight weeks showed that patients in the treatment groups had average reductions of at least 18 percent in disability, 32 percent for anxiety, 36 percent for depression and 12 percent in typical pain levels. These improvements were sustained or even improved after three months, and there were no significant differences between the intervention groups based on how much contact people had with clinicians.
The researchers noted several limitations of the study, one being that it didn’t examine what therapies people received in the control group, so the team doesn’t know if people in that group would have recovered without any treatment.