Jan 28, 2016

Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway – Take part in a Trial of a new online rehabilitation programme

he Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway is currently recruiting people with chronic pain (pain which lasted for 3 months or more) to take part in the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) trial. The study offers patients with chronic pain the opportunity to avail of 8 online sessions in the comfort of their own home!

The sessions, which are free of charge, will focus on values and goals that are individual to each person in the trial; provide instruction on a range of activity-pacing techniques to encourage more consistent levels of activity from day-to-day; provide mindfulness techniques to allow moment-to-moment awareness of all experiences; and cognitive therapy to help identify both negative thinking patterns and the development of effective challenges. The study, funded by the Health Research Board, is open to people all over Ireland and will take place over the coming months. GPs and physiotherapists around the country are being encouraged to refer suitable people with pain to the study.

Dr. Christopher Dwyer, post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway says: “We know that a combination of psychological and physical therapies provided to people with chronic pain are beneficial, particularly for people at risk of long term disability. However, this type of service is often only accessible via specialised hospital-based pain management teams. In this trial, we will offer this type of service to people all over the country and at any stage of injury.”

Dr. Dwyer added, “This programme was set up by expert psychologists and physiotherapists in the management of chronic pain. In total, the programme lasts for 8 weeks and is delivered online to people with chronic pain, in the comfort of their own homes. People who take part in the trial are not asked to attend any clinic or the university at any stage. All materials are tailored for those wishing to learn effective ways of managing their chronic pain. Participants can access physiotherapy and all medical services as usual while involved in the trial.” The researchers are specifically interested in hearing from people who have pain for 3 months or longer and have regular access to a computer and the internet.

Participant Information

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. You are invited to take part in a research project which will investigate the effect of an online psychological pain management programme, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), for people who suffer with chronic pain. Before you decide whether you would like to be part of this research project, it is important that you understand why we are carrying out this research and what it will involve.

Background information

The aim of the current research project is to determine whether an online psychological pain management programme is effective among people who suffer with chronic pain in Ireland. This has not been investigated to date in Ireland.

Am I eligible to take part in this study?

You are eligible to take part in the study if all the following are true:

  • You are aged 18 years or more;
  • You have pain for at least three months’ duration;
  • Your pain has been assessed by a general practitioner or specialist doctor within the last three months;
  • You have regular access to a computer and to the internet;
  • You are willing to abstain from any new psychological or pharmacological treatment for chronic pain during the active phase of this study;
  • You are not currently experiencing a psychotic illness;
  • You are not experiencing chronic pain due to malignancy; and
  • You have adequate English language ability.

What will happen if I volunteer to take part?

First, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire, so that we can assess the potential benefits of this intervention. All the information provided will be kept 100% anonymous and confidential. Next, you will be randomly assigned to one of two groups: one group will undergo the online pain management programme immediately and the other group will not access the programme initially, but will have access to the programme after the research project has been completed.

The sessions in this online psychological pain management have been developed from programmes that are widely-used by psychologists during one-to-one and group therapy sessions among people with chronic pain. Our research group, which includes clinical psychologists, a physiotherapist and experts in health promotion, designed this specific online ACT programme for use in a pain management context. All materials are tailored for those wishing to learn effective ways of managing their chronic pain.

The programme is designed to last for 8 weeks. Use of the programme will be at your convenience. However, you will be given instructions on how you are to progress through it. Each session should last approximately 30-40 minutes to accommodate your busy schedule, while still being of benefit to you. You will be encouraged to proceed through the programme from Week 1 to Week 8 successfully; to listen to and practice mindfulness exercises; and to complete a short questionnaire before and after the programme.

The assignment of people to the two groups is completed automatically and completely at random. Upon completion of the questionnaire, you will be notified as to what group you are assigned. Though one group will not access the programme initially, if you are assigned to this group, you will be offered the opportunity to participate in the online pain management programme after the study has been completed. Thus, everybody who registers for this research project will have the opportunity to benefit from the online pain management programme. Notably, regardless of what group you were assigned, you will be asked to complete a second questionnaire at the end of the 8 week programme.

Are there any benefits from my participation?
Benefits to the participants include: access to a free online psychological pain management programme; informational benefits relating to the management of chronic pain; a greater understanding of the individual’s role in pain management and training in mindfulness techniques tailored for chronic pain management.

When this research project is concluded, all participants who have completed the programme will receive a summary of the main findings. Of note, it could take in excess of 6 months before final results are published.

If you are interested in taking partplease contact us via email [email protected] or telephone (091 495391). Please also visit the Centre for Pain Research’s website at:

Note to Healthcare Professionals

For further information, please contact Dr. Christopher Dwyer at the Centre for Pain Research, NUI Galway, email [email protected], phone 091 495 391, or see the website GPs or physiotherapists who are interested in referring suitable patients to the trial can also use these contact details.

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