1. Heleno, Emanuel PT, MSc


Background and Purpose: Pain prevalence in older adults is high and greatly impacts their functioning. The primary aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of an intervention consisting of pain neuroscience education (PNE) plus exercise for community-dwelling older adults attending primary care, by assessing recruitment rates (inclusion, refusal, and exclusion rates), adverse events, and acceptability of the intervention. Secondary aims were to establish suitable procedures for delivering the intervention and assess the feasibility of data collection for psychosocial and physical functioning.


Methods: A mixed-methods feasibility study with 2 groups was conducted. One group received 8 weekly 75-minute sessions of PNE plus exercise (PNE+E) and the other received usual care (UC), which consisted of appointments with the general practitioner. Inclusion, refusal, exclusion, and retention rates, dropouts, and adverse events were assessed. The Brief Pain Inventory, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, the Tampa Scale, the Geriatric Depression Scale, the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule, the 4-meter walk gait speed test and the 5 times sit-to-stand tests were used for assessment. A focus group interview was conducted with participants from the PNE+E group. Descriptive statistics were used for quantitative data and thematic analysis for qualitative data.


Results and Discussion: Of 61 participants recruited, 33 (PNE+E = 22; UC = 11) entered the study, and 24 completed the intervention (PNE+E = 15; UC = 9). The inclusion rate was 54%, the refusal rate was 21%, the exclusion rate was 35%, the dropout rate was 32% in the PNE+E and 18% in the UC, and the retention rate was 68% in the PNE+E group and 82% in the UC group. No adverse events were reported and the intervention was well accepted by participants. Data collection for the clinical outcomes was feasible and results suggested higher improvements in the PNE+E group than in the UC group.


Conclusion: PNE+E is possible to implement, safe, and well accepted by community-dwelling older adults independent of their education level. This study informs future studies on practical and methodological strategies that should be considered when designing a PNE+E intervention for older adults, such as adapting the language of the PNE to participants, using relatable metaphors, and encouraging written and exercise homework.