CHRONIC PAIN: A COMMUNITY-BASED EXERCISE AND EDUCATION PROGRAM
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Chronic pain affects approximately 16% to 36% of Canadian adults and is one of the most common reasons for physician visits in Canada. The effects of a self-referral community-based education/exercise program (Y-PEP) on physical function and well-being were initially evaluated in 20 individuals with chronic pain who had attended one of three Y-PEP sessions in 2007. The 10-week program incorporated chronic pain education/self-management and various exercise modalities to allow individuals with chronic pain to try different physical activities in a safe and supported environment. Questionnaires were administered pre-, post-program, and at 10-weeks follow-up and provided data on demographic information, physical activity levels, depression, pain perception, and pain catastrophizing. Maximal activity levels and adjusted activity levels increased 7% and 10% respectively at post-program, but only the adjusted activity levels remained elevated at the 10-week follow-up. No significant changes occurred in any of the other outcome measures, however, the extent to which maximal and daily activity increased was significantly correlated with greater improvements in the extent to which pain interfered with one’s life (r=0.45) and with pain catastrophizing (r=0.45). These latter two improvements were significantly associated with greater decreases in depression score (r=0.50). Overall, these findings suggest that a community-based program for individuals with chronic pain can improve physical function and psycho-social well-being. Further effort is required to establish such programs in communities for individuals with chronic pain.