Feeling in Control Could Help Reduce Chronic Pain
Living with chronic pain can be hard, both physically and emotionally. Taking medications or participating in pain management programs can make life easier, but patients can also help themselves through self-management, or taking control of their own pain management.
Not everyone who has chronic pain is ready for self-management, so doctors are studying how to predict who would benefit most from this approach. Patients who are ready for self-management are more successful in completing programs and are able to cope with their chronic pain better than those who are not ready. In this study, researchers wanted to learn what might help them identify into which group patients may fall.
Researchers examined questionnaires, called the Pain Stages of Change Questionnaire, that had been filled out by patients with chronic pain. They answered a subgroup of questions, Precontemplation and Action, that were designed to divide them up into groups according to how ready they may be to self-manage their pain.
After looking at the results, the researchers found that patients in the precontemplation group reported a higher level of pain and were anxious or depressed. They felt as if they had no control over their situation and they depended on their doctors to tell them what to do. The patients in this group didn't believe that they had any power in changing things and that they didn't know enough about the injury that caused the pain. Patients in the second group, the action group, however, felt more confident about managing their pain, they understood the causes and what they could do to help live with the pain as comfortably as possible. The patients in this group were considered to be more likely to be able to self-manage their pain.
The authors of the study concluded that using a questionnaire designed to assess a patient's readiness for self-management could help improve care. By knowing how ready their patients are in terms of managing their pain, doctors can choose the appropriate care for each patient.
Heather Hadjistavropoulos, PhD, and Joanne Shymkiw, MA. Predicting Readiness to Self-manage Pain. In The Clinical Journal of Pain. March/April 2007. Vol. 23. No. 3. Pp 259-266.
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