Increasing physical function is a challenging, yet imperative goal of pain management programs. Physical activity can improve physical function, but uptake is low due to chronic pain misconceptions, poor pain management skills, and doing too much too soon.
To increase physical function by 1) adapting an evidence-based, group, mind-body program to address the needs of patients with heterogeneous chronic pain and to facilitate individually tailored quota-based pacing with a Fitbit (GetActive with Fitbit) or without it (GetActive) (phase 1), and 2) assessing preliminary feasibility benchmarks (phase 2).
We followed evidence based frameworks for developing interventions and for early feasibility testing. In phase 1 we conducted 4 focus groups with 22 patients with heterogeneous chronic pain and adapted the mind-body program. In phase 2 we conducted a nonrandomized pilot trial of the 2 programs (N=7 and 6) with qualitative exit interviews.
Focus groups showed high interest in increasing activity, a preference for walking linked to pleasurable activities, using a Fitbit to track number of steps, and learning skills to manage pain and aid with increased activity. Both programs had good to excellent feasibility markers. Participation in both programs was associated with signal of improvements in physical and emotional function, as well as intervention targets. Exit interviews confirmed high satisfaction and suggested modification.
Results informed subsequent adaptations of the 2 programs and methodology for an ongoing pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the 2 programs, necessary before an efficacy RCT of the 2 programs against an education control.