Empowering Exercise Professionals to Support Individuals With Chronic Pain

Leisure hike.
Leisure hike.
Exercise professionals may act as "key supporters" of individuals with chronic pain.

Exercise professionals may act as “key supporters” of individuals with chronic pain, according to study results presented at the American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo, held November 10-14 in San Diego, California. A short 1-time workshop may improve the pain knowledge and confidence of exercise professionals in providing counselling to individuals with chronic pain.

Investigators sought to identify key supporters of individuals with chronic pain. They created focus groups that included adult patients, their loved ones, healthcare practitioners (eg, physical therapists), and exercise professionals (eg, personal trainers); 10 groups and 63 study participants were involved in the study. The key supporters of patients within these groups were determined to be exercise professionals. These supporters (n=95) were then asked to complete a survey online in order to assess their level of confidence in their counselling abilities and the extent of their knowledge regarding pain mechanisms.

The supporter responses indicated poor knowledge (score: 50.94±17.92 on a 0 to 100 scale) and moderate levels of confidence regarding their ability to counsel patients (score: 5.31±2.54 on a 0 to 10 scale). After completing these baseline surveys, 8 of the key supporters attended a 2-hour workshop, after which they were asked to fill out both surveys again. Both knowledge regarding pain and confidence in counselling abilities were found to have improved compared with pre-workshop levels (difference in scores: 12.51 and 1.54, respectively; P =.005 and P =.01, respectively).

“These workshop findings were particularly exciting because the use of such a workshop is scalable in that it can be offered to exercise professionals across the [US] and beyond, if adopted by organizations (eg, certification bodies like the American College of Sports Medicine…),” said study co-investigator, Nancy Gyurcsik, PhD, professor at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. “If adopted, there is potential for having trained, knowledgeable professionals in rural and urban settings who can better help participants living with pain to try to exercise in the long-term, and perhaps not be as dependent on opioids.”

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Brittain DR, Gyurcsik N, Tupper S, Brawley L, Cary M, Ratcliffe-Smith D. Increasing exercise opportunities for adults with chronic pain: A multi-phase study. Presented at: American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo; November 10-14, 2018; San Diego, CA. Abstract 4287.0.

This article originally appeared on Medical Bag