Objective. To determine whether an interactive self-management Website for people with chronic back pain would significantly improve emotional management, coping, self-efficacy to manage pain, pain levels, and physical functioning compared with standard text-based materials.
Design. The study utilized a pretest–posttest randomized controlled design comparing Website (painACTION-Back Pain) and control (text-based material) conditions at baseline and at 1-, 3, and 6-month follow-ups.
Participants. Two hundred and nine people with chronic back pain were recruited through dissemination of study information online and at a pain treatment clinic. The 6-month follow-up rates for the Website and control groups were 73% and 84%, respectively.
Measurements. Measures were based on the recommendations of the Initiative on Methods, Measurement, and Pain Assessment in Clinical Trials and included measures of pain intensity, physical functioning, emotional functioning, coping, self-efficacy, fear-avoidance, perceived improvement with treatment, self-efficacy, and catastrophizing.
Results. Compared with controls, painACTION-Back Pain participants reported significantly: 1) lower stress; 2) increased coping self-statements; and 3) greater use of social support. Comparisons between groups suggested clinically significant differences in current pain intensity, depression, anxiety, stress, and global ratings of improvement. Among participants recruited online, those using the Website reported significantly: 1) lower “worst” pain; 2) lower “average” pain; and 3) increased coping self-statements, compared with controls. Participants recruited through the pain clinic evidenced no such differences.
Conclusions. An online self-management program for people with chronic back pain can lead to improvements in stress, coping, and social support, and produce clinically significant differences in pain, depression, anxiety, and global rates of improvement.