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I have chronic pain. Will a remote pain management course help me manage my pain?

An 8-week pain course that patients took from home helped reduce pain, disability, depression, and anxiety. The course helped patients who accessed the course online and those who took the course by using workbooks that were mailed to them. These different formats mean that more people will be able to take the pain management course.

What is the evidence?

Researchers compared patients who took the course online with people who used mailed workbooks to take the course. They measured pain, disability, depression, and anxiety and found that:

  • Patients who took the pain management course had less pain, less disability, less anxiety, and less depression after the course was done.
  • There was no difference between patients who took the course over the Internet compared to people who took the course using mailed workbooks.
  • Patients didn’t have to have face-to-face contact with a physician for the course to work.

What kind of study was this?

This was a randomized controlled trial, or RCT. In an RCT, patients are randomly picked to go in one treatment group or the other treatment group.

Who participated in this study? This RCT included 178 people in Australia who had chronic pain for more than 6 months.

How was the study done? All patients received “The Pain Course” which is an online chronic pain management program. This study compared people who took the program online with people who had the program mailed to them in workbooks.

Internet Pain Course


Mailed Pain Course

Pain course materials were accessed online with a personal, password-protected account. Reminder emails were sent at the beginning of each week when the next lesson became available.

Pain Course materials were delivered through registered mail to the participant’s door. The materials were printed in colour with exactly the same content as the Internet group, in a spiral bound workbook. Participants were given a prescribed timetable for working through the course. This group did not receive reminder emails.

Why was this research done?

Research has shown that chronic pain management courses can help patients reduce their pain, disability, anxiety, and depression. The Pain Course is effective when it is taken online. Some people do not have easy access to the Internet, or are not comfortable using the Internet. The researchers wanted to know if The Pain Course still worked if the materials were delivered to a person’s home to make The Pain Course accessible to more people with chronic pain.

This Evidence Summary is based on the following article:

Dear BF, Gandy M, Karin E, et al. The pain course: a randomised controlled trial comparing a remote-delivered chronic pain management program when provided in online and workbook formats. Pain. 2017 Jul;158(7):1289-1301. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000916. PubMed

Published: Thursday, July 26, 2018

Please note that the information contained herein is not to be interpreted as an alternative to medical advice from a professional healthcare provider. If you have any questions about any medical matter, you should consult your professional healthcare providers, and should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medication based on information provided here.