Improving the Quality of Life of Patients With Chronic Pain: A Pilot Study
Background: Mind and body tools, such as exercise and meditation, can impact pain-reducing brain areas and lessen the pain experience for patients with chronic pain.
Purpose: To see if introduction of mind/body tools has measureable improvement on quality of life for patients with chronic pain.
Methods: As previously reported, we conducted a pilot study on adult women with stable chronic pain who were resistant to conventional therapies. Our intervention began in June 2015 and consisted of an initial 8-hour session. Following the initial session, meetings were 1.5 hours long weekly for 8 weeks, followed by biweekly meetings for 8 weeks, then monthly. Mind/body tools (ie, deep meditation, breath work, etc) were systematically taught and reinforced during meetings. World Health Organization Quality of Life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF) surveys were completed periodically throughout the pilot study. The WHOQOL-BREF has subcategories for overall quality of life, physical health, psychological health, social relationships, and environmental health. Paired t-tests were used to compare patients at baseline and 24 months post-mind/body tool education.
Results: As previously reported, women (N = 5) were of mean age 43.2 years and body mass index of 35.8 kg/m2. Mean long-acting narcotic (LAN) was 260 morphine equivalents at baseline and now 68 morphine equivalents at 24 month assessments, respectively. Patients did not significantly decrease use of LAN. Only 4 patients completed the WHOQOL-BREF survey at 24 months. There was no statistical difference in patients’ overall quality of life, physical health, psychological health, social relations, and environmental health from baseline to conclusion of the study. Even so, ongoing verbal feedback universally praised the program and may be reflected in the changes we noticed in overall QOL within the first 3 months of the program. Ultimately, it is also notable that for most, the greatest benefits were seen at 3 and 6 months while the program was still ongoing. Most benefits were not maintained beyond active participation in the program.
Conclusion: Given that this was a pilot study with a small sample size, there were no significant findings or even notable long-term trends in measurable outcomes. While narcotic use decreased, patient use may have reduced because of the current changes in regulations and guidelines for narcotic use, perhaps in combination with this program. Further study is warranted.