Web-Based Pain Management Tools Reduce Visits to the Doctor – A new Australian study found that online tools for managing pain can be quite effective and may reduce the need to visit the doctor.
Study author Blake Dear, a psychology researcher at Macquarie University in New South Wales, and his team, recruited about 500 patients online who had recently seen a doctor for managing pain and who did not suffer from any psychotic illnesses or depression. They divided the participants into three groups and gave all groups access to web-based tutorials for pain management, but only one group was allowed regular contact with clinicians during the study, another got optional contact with doctors, and the third group got no contact. A fourth control group was told they were on a wait-list for the online courses and to use their regular treatment prescribed by their doctors.
Researchers found that the group that was given access to doctors, averaged about 68 minutes of contact with their doctors during the 8-week study period, while the group with optional contact averaged only 13 minutes, and the group with emergency access to only 5 minutes. Patients in all treatment groups had average reductions of at least 18% in disability, 32% for anxiety, 36% for depression and 12% in typical pain levels. The contact time with doctors seemed to have no significant impact on the participants.
Participants in all treatment groups also had significantly greater reductions in disability, depression and anxiety than the fourth group wait-listed for the online courses. A limitation of the study was that patients in the control group were not asked what type of treatment they received for pain management.
The study was published in the journal, Pain.