Effects of a Peer-Led Pain Management Program for Nursing Home Residents with Chronic Pain: A Pilot Study

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Objectives To examine the feasibility of a peer-led pain management program among nursing home residents.

Design A quasi-experimental design.

Setting Two nursing homes.

Subjects Fifty nursing home residents.

Methods The experimental group (n = 32) was given a 12-week group-based peer-led pain management program. There were two 1-hour sessions per week. Education in pain and demonstrations of nonpharmacological pain management strategies were provided. The research team and 12 trained peers led the sessions. The control group (n = 18) received one 1-hour session of pain management program each week over 12 weeks from the research team only. Outcome measures for the participants were collected at baseline (P1) and at week 12 (P2). Data from peer volunteers were collected prior to training (V1) and at week 12 (V2). T-tests were used to compare the differences in outcome measures collected at two time points.

Results There was a significant reduction in pain intensity from 5.8 ± 2.6 (P1) to 3.4 ± 2.5 (P2) for the experimental group (p = 0.003) and from 6.3 ± 3.0 (P1) to 3.1 ± 2.4 (P2) for the control group (p = 0.001). Activities of daily living significantly improved for both the experimental group (p = 0.008) and the control group (p = 0.014). There was an enhancement in happiness level for the experimental group (p < 0.001), while the loneliness level dropped significantly for the experimental group (p < 0.001) and the control group (p = 0.031). The peer volunteers showed a significant increase in self-rated pain management knowledge (2.9 ± 2.6 to 8.1 ± 1.2, p < 0.001) and self-efficacy in volunteering (5.8 ± 2.9 to 8.3 ± 1.5, p = 0.032).

Conclusion The peer-led pain management program was feasible and has potential in relieving chronic pain and enhancing the physical and psychological health of nursing home residents.

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