To participate in this study, you must attend one of our free information sessions.
These information sessions will last about 90 minutes. Our principal investigator will describe the study, go through the informed consent and registration forms, answer questions, and offer you the chance to enroll if you meet the eligibility criteria. You are under no obligation to enroll in the study if you attend one of these information sessions. You should not join the study until all your questions are answered to your satisfaction.
Space is limited. To attend a free information session, you must RSVP:
More About the Study
The main goal of any research study is to learn things that may help other patients in the future. This study is an educational research study, not medical research or medical treatment. No experimental drugs, devices, vaccines or medical procedures will be involved. The objective is to teach you how to restore (or "rehabilitate") yourself as much as possible to health and well-being, even if your chronic pain does not go away. The strategies are taken from four different approaches to pain self-management, which previous research has proven effective. However, this particular combination of techniques has not yet been studied.
Who is eligible to take part in the study?
You may participate in this research study if you:
- Are at least 18 years of age
- Have suffered from chronic non-cancer pain for at least one year (12 months)
- Are currently using one or more opioid medications to help manage your pain
- Are willing to be randomly assigned either to a pain self-management education group or a wait-list control group (if you are assigned to the control group, you will be able to receive the same training after the education group is finished)
- Are able to attend all eight of the class sessions at one of our research study sites
- Are willing and able to understand and sign an informed consent form at one of our free public information sessions
What will happen if you join the study?
If you are eligible to join the study, you must attend one of our information sessions, and sign an informed consent form. Next, you will fill out a participant registration form, which provides your contact information and limited personal and medical information. Once we have registered enough research volunteers (ideally 120 people), you will be randomly assigned either to the pain self-management education group or to the wait-list control group.
Pain Self-Management Education Group:
If you are randomly assigned to the pain self-management education group, you will attend eight class sessions of 2.5 hours each, for a total of 20 in-class hours. Classes will be offered on multiple days of the week, at different times of day, to accommodate different schedules. You will have homework to complete between class sessions, which may include physical activity, psychological techniques, highly personalized action plans, and written records to track your progress. During class #1 and class #8, you will complete seven self-report assessments to track changes that may occur during the eight-week program.
Wait-List Control Group:
If you are randomly assigned to the wait-list control group, you will meet only once at the beginning and once at the end of the eight-week training period for about one hour each, to fill out the same seven assessments. After the pain self-management education group has finished, you will be offered the chance to go through the exact same training, which will take another eight weeks of your time. However, you are not required to go through the class, if you choose not to.
All research study participants will receive up to $80 compensation. If you are assigned to the pain self-management education group, you will receive $10 for each completed class session. If you are assigned to the control group, you will receive $40 for each completed assessment session. If you do not complete the study, you will be compensated only for the sessions you completed.
What risks or discomforts are involved with participating in the study?
Because this is an educational research study, and it does not involve any drugs, medical tests or procedures, the risks you may experience are minimal.
- Attending class for 2.5 hours may cause some physical discomfort. We will take regular breaks, you may bring comfort items to class, and you may stand up, move around, or even lie down during sessions, as needed.
- You may accidentally overdo a physical activity or exercise outside of class and cause a flare-up of your pain. We will provide instructions on how to plan and carry out new activities, and take small steps.
- If you decide to reduce your opioid medications too quickly, you may experience some withdrawal symptoms and other unpleasant side effects (e.g. nausea). We will provide guidelines on how to slowly and safely taper opioid usage, ideally with assistance from your physician. However, you are not required to change your medications, if you decide not to.
- Certain pain self-management techniques may cause some emotional discomfort, especially if you begin to face things that you have been avoiding. Part of the training program involves simple techniques to defuse psychological distress and reactivity to pain. The principal investigator is also a registered psychotherapist with experience dealing with emotions.
Are there benefits to participating in the study?
Although we cannot promise any specific outcomes, you may gain some of the following benefits
- In the pain self-management education group, you may learn a number of highly personalized pain self-management strategies and gain new understanding of why you hurt and what you can do about it. You may be able to maintain these strategies after the end of the study, since they will be based mostly on your own choices, actions, and experiments.
- During class sessions with other people who understand and live with chronic pain, you may feel a sense of belonging, social connection, engagement, and support.
- Your overall quality of life, emotional well-being, self-confidence, motivation, and hope for the future may improve while you are in this study. The intensity of your pain and dependence of opioid medication may be reduced.
- Finally, even if you only participate in the control group (and choose not to go through the eight-week program), the results of this study may help other people who suffer from chronic pain in the future. You may benefit from knowing that you will be helping us gain new knowledge and insight in the emerging field of chronic pain self-management and self-rehabilitation.