Chronic low back pain is highly prevalent in Veterans, and is often resistant to pharmacological management so that non-pharmacological management is required. For many patients, the most effective approach is comprehensive pain management incorporating multiple therapies addressing: physical, mental, mind-body, sleep, safety, and environmental needs. The ultimate outcome is the development of a coordinated multidimensional evidence-based plan for pain self-management (C-MEPPS) tailored to each patient. This approach, while effective, is highly resource intensive and severely constrained by cost and health system factors. Our goal is a mobile web-based application (App) that provides immediate feedback to Veterans seeking to develop their own pain self-management plan. This will represent a novel, scalable, Veteran-driven solution to chronic low back pain aligned with VA strategic objectives ?online navigator tools?empowers Veterans to make decisions.? We are focused on transferring knowledge about evidence-base practices into the primary care context to help Veterans and their healthcare providers manage pain effectively- before it gets worse. We have already developed the App prototype utilizing User-Centered Design principles to optimize the user experience.
Our first aim i s to develop and pilot test a web-based App for Veterans, including older Veterans and women Veterans, designed to empower each in pain self-management planning: providing access and data-driven guidance about evidence-based multidimensional behavior change.
Our second aim i s to gather pilot data targeting patient-centered and rehabilitative outcomes such as: increased activity, more sleep time, decreased pain interference and better quality of life; through use of the App and engagement in pain self- management planning. This project brings together the expertise of skilled exercise physiologists, experienced pain and sleep clinical psychologists, pain specialists, clinical educators, geriatricians, women?s health providers, and technology design experts to create a powerful new pipeline for knowledge transfer to patients and providers. Grounded in whole health and integrative approaches, nursing principles, pharmacy practices, physical therapy, and nutrition are also included in the App. We are working as an interprofessional pain-focused team to put the best-available information about non-pharmacological treatments for pain into the hands of Veterans and their primary care providers. Our vision is to improve the lives of Veterans with chronic low back pain, improving access to knowledge and resources and giving Veterans the power to plan their own path to better, more fulfilling living despite chronic low back pain.

Public Health Relevance

Chronic low back pain is the #1 cause of disability and low quality of life in Veterans. Pain is a huge burden- stealing enjoyment, fulfillment, and time. Sometimes surgery, injections, or medications can help but sometimes not. Although no one solution fixes chronic low back pain, there are many treatments that can reduce pain impact and restore quality of life. These treatments involve: movement, psychology, mind-and- body therapies, sleep, and environmental factors. The challenge is how to best coordinate these treatments for chronic low back pain. We?ve built a prototype mobile application that delivers the latest information to Veterans so they can work with healthcare providers to build their own pain self-management plans. With this new tool, the Veteran has data at hand and choses their preferred pain self-management activities, making a coordinated plan that can be shared with their healthcare team. Our goal is giving Veterans the knowledge and power to 'plan the work and work the plan' for chronic low back pain: restoring value, fulfillment, and meaning.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Veterans Affairs (VA)
Veterans Administration (I21)
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Rehabilitation Research and Development SPiRE Program (RRDS)
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Baltimore VA Medical Center
United States
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