Effective pain management in everyday life: Developing a model of peer support for persistent pain

About the Project

Early Career Researcher, Dr Melissa Legg is leading a project with the Persistent Pain Management Service at the Division of Rehabilitation to develop a model of peer support which will help patients carry out their pain management plans in everyday life.

They are going to spend the next 12 months developing and pilot testing a model of peer support using an approach that is consistent with world-standards and addresses the needs of patients. This will include interviews with patients and peer support providers from the community, a survey on patients’ preferences for delivery, and a focus group with pain experts.


The team recognises that it is difficult for patients to change the way they normally manage pain, for example, this might mean new daily activities or psychosocial strategies that can reduce pain severity and interference. Currently, persistent pain services are not adequately resourced to help patients incorporate and sustain these complex regimens in their everyday lives. They think that trained peer supporters, who are role models for effective pain management, could potentially help address this gap in care by offering practical assistance and emotional support that is frequent or flexible (e.g. follow-up telephone calls). 

This project will generate new knowledge on the needs of patients with persistent pain and the acceptability of peer support in the context of pain management. They are developing this model according to the principles of co-design, and the data we collected will provide local insight into patients’ experiences with carrying out pain management plans as well as their unmet needs and attitudes about peer support.

Stay tuned for more to come as this project is just commencing and is anticipated to have some great observations and outputs in early 2019.

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