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Open Access Study protocol

Peer volunteers in an integrative pain management program for frail older adults with chronic pain: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Mimi Mun Yee Tse1*, Paul Hong Lee1, Sheung Mei Ng2, Bik Kwan Tsien-Wong3 and Suey Shuk Yu Yeung1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Nursing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

2 Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

3 Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

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Trials 2014, 15:205  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-205

Published: 3 June 2014

Abstract

Background

Chronic pain is common among the older population. A literature review on pain management program showed that exercise, yoga, massage therapy, Tai Chi, and music therapy could significantly reduce pain. In spite of the proven benefits of pain management programs, these intervention programs were effective only in the short term, and older adults would resume their old habits. It has been suggested that interventions comprising some type of social support have great potential to increase the participation of older adults. Therefore, we propose the inclusion of peer volunteers in an integrated pain management program to relieve pain among frail older adults. This study aims to explore the effectiveness of an integrated pain management program supplemented with peer volunteers in improving pain intensity, functional mobility, physical activity, loneliness levels, happiness levels, and the use of non-pharmacological pain-relieving methods among frail older adults with chronic pain.

Methods/Design

We intend to recruit 30 nursing home residents and 30 peer volunteers from the Institute of Active Ageing in Hong Kong in a group trial for an 8-week group-based integrated pain management program. There will be 16 sessions, with two 1-hour sessions each week.

The primary outcome will be pain levels, while secondary outcomes will be assessed according to functional mobility, physical activity, loneliness levels, happiness levels, the use of non-pharmacological pain-relieving methods, and through a questionnaire for volunteers.

Discussion

In view of the high prevalence of chronic pain among older adults and its adverse impacts, it is important to provide older adults with tools to control their pain. We propose the use of peer volunteers to enhance the effects of an integrated pain management program. It is expected that pain can be reduced and improvements can be achieved among older adults in the areas of physical activity, functional mobility, loneliness levels, happiness levels, and the use of non-pharmacological pain relieving methods. Using these results, we will assess the need to conduct a larger study with a randomized controlled design.

Trial registration

This trial was registered on 24 February 2014 at the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) with the trial number: ACTRN12614000195651

Keywords:
protocol; peer volunteers; pain; non-pharmacological; physical activity; gerontology