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  1. Bach, Eileen PT, DPT
  2. Beissner, Katherine PT, PhD
  3. Murtaugh, Christopher PhD
  4. Trachtenberg, Melissa BS
  5. Reid, M. Carrington MD


Purpose: The prevalence of pain in older adults receiving home health care is high, yet safety concerns for analgesic therapy point to a need for nonpharmacologic approaches to pain management in this population. The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility and acceptability to physical therapists (PTs) and patients of a cognitive-behavioral pain self-management (CBPSM) program.


Methods: Thirty-one PTs volunteered to participate, completed two 4-hour training sessions, and recruited 21 patients with activity-limited pain who consented to participate in the study. Physical therapists completed pre- and posttest assessments of CBPSM knowledge at the first training session, provided structured survey feedback after the second training session, and responded to a phone survey 3 months after training. Patients provided feedback during weekly phone interviews, while receiving the CBPSM program. Treatment sessions were audiotaped during delivery of the self-management pain protocol. Audiotapes were evaluated by independent raters for program fidelity.


Results: Participating PTs were experienced in physical therapy (average 16.5 years) and in home health care (average 11.0 years). Analysis of pre- and posttest data showed that PTs' CBPSM knowledge increased from a pretest mean of 60.9% to a posttest mean of 85.9%. Audiotape analysis indicated 77.7% therapist adherence to the protocol. At 3-month follow-up, 24.0% of therapists continued to use the entire protocol with their patients presenting with activity-limiting pain. Patient data show high rates of patient recall of being taught protocol components, trying components at least once (ranging from 84.4% to 100.0%) and daily use of protocol components (ranging from 47.3% to 68.4%). The percentage of patients finding a technique helpful for pain management ranged from 71.4% to 81.2%.


Conclusion: This study offers preliminary data on the use of nonpharmacologic pain self-management strategies by PTs in home health setting. Positive feedback from PTs and patients suggests that the translated protocol is both feasible and acceptable.