April 23, 2019

Chronic Pain Self-Management Program: A Community Approach to Build Self-Efficacy in Pain Management


By Theresa Horton, MNSc, CNP, GNP-BC
Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, UAMS


Chronic pain can be caused by multiple problems including disease processes, muscle tension, muscle deconditioning, lack of or poor quality sleep, stress, anxiety or other difficult emotions and even certain medications. For many a “pain cycle” appears with one symptom leading to another. Individuals dealing with chronic pain often suffer complications of limited movement, increased weakening of muscles, heightened emotions such as anxiety, anger, frustration, etc.   These all too often lead to an increase in perceived pain, increased dependence on medications and, in many cases, addiction.

The Chronic Pain Self-Management Program (CPSMP) is a community-based program covering several topics over the course of the workshop to motivate participants and manage their pain. It is based on these assumptions:

  1. People with chronic pain have similar concerns and problems.
  2. People with chronic pain deal with their condition AND the impact it has on their lives and emotions.
  3. Lay people with chronic pain can teach the program as effectively, if not more effectively, than health professionals.
  4. The process used is as important, if not more so, than the content of the program.

CPSMP is presented through small groups (12-16) that meet for one 2.5 hour session weekly for 6 weeks.   It is led by 2 trained leaders.  Topics covered include sleep, problem-solving, difficult emotions, physical activity, better breathing, fatigue management, healthy eating, communication skills, medication management,  working with a healthcare team, etc.   This program was developed by Sandra LeFort, PhD, MN, RN in collaboration with Dr. Kate Lorig and staff at Stanford’s Patient Education Research Center.   It has been rigorously evaluated in two studies and findings showed that participants expressed more energy, less pain, less dependence, improved mental health, improved coping skills and an overall better quality of life.   The program is designed to enhance other programs and treatments, not conflict with them.

Kathy Packard, M.Ed., MS, LPC and Theresa Horton, MNSc, CNP, GNP-BC, are with the Reynolds Institute on Aging Centers on Aging, are both certified as Master Trainers for CPSMP, and partner with the AGEC for leader and community trainings. For more information on program implementation or leader training opportunities, please feel free to contact the AGEC at https://agec.uams.edu/contact-us-on-location-requests/ or call us at 501-526-7482.