A new online treatment programme, set up by expert psychologists and physiotherapists, aims to help those who are managing multiple chronic health conditions
The Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, with the support of the Health Research Board, is currently recruiting people with chronic pain and at least one other long-term condition to take part in a research study. The study is open to people all over Ireland and will take place over the coming months. GPs and other health professionals around the country are also being encouraged to refer suitable people to the study.
The Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) trial will provide eight online sessions to people in the comfort of their own home. At the moment, such supports are scarce and generally aimed at the self-management of single specific chronic conditions, such as chronic pain alone.
Research has shown that having multiple chronic conditions, also known as multimorbidity, is associated with a number of negative outcomes, such as a decline in physical and mental functioning, a decreased quality of life and a greater risk of mortality. The ACT trial is based on emerging clinical science that demonstrates the usefulness of managing health conditions through mindfulness and psychological wellbeing.
The free online sessions in the ACT programme will focus on values and goals that are individual to each person in the trial. Participants will be provided with instructions on a range of activity-pacing techniques to encourage more consistent levels of activity from day-to-day. In addition, mindfulness techniques and cognitive behavioural therapy will help identify both negative thinking patterns and the development of effective challenges.
Dr Brian Slattery, coordinator of the study at the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, says: “We know that psychological therapies provided to people with chronic conditions are beneficial, but can be hard to access. In this trial, we will offer this online programme to people all over the country, with any combination of conditions, to try alongside any existing treatments they are already using.”
People who take part in the ACT trial will not need to attend any clinic or the University at any stage. All materials are tailored for those wishing to learn effective ways of managing their health conditions. Participants can access physiotherapy and all medical services as usual while involved in the trial.
Study supervisor, Dr Brian McGuire from the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, said: “This is a promising new online pain management programme and we are hopeful it will be of benefit to people with multimorbidity.”