St Vincent’s new chronic pain course is Australia’s first online multidisciplinary pain management program offering participants pain education and strategies from physiotherapy, psychology and other forms of treatment.
The online course was produced by a unique collaboration of academic and clinical staff at St Vincent’s Hospital: the Department of Pain Medicine (Australia’s first pain clinic), and internationally renowned Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD).
Developed on the back of St Vincent’s ongoing innovation in multidisciplinary telehealth services in rural centres, the course provides an eight-lesson program with more than 16 hours of integrated education, learning and support.
It was designed to be prescribed by health professionals working in city and rural settings, as an adjunct to care, and is particularly useful for those struggling with chronic pain who are unable to attend a face-to-face pain management program.
The referring health professional can register the patient straight away, and the patient can leave the consulting room with their login details.
The course offers easy to understand narrative stories, videos and additional resources, including an exercise program, plus educational videos on the nature of chronic pain, nutrition, sleep, medication, pain clinic organisation, meditation and safe lifting.
St Vincent’s Rehabilitation Medicine Specialist Associate Professor Steven Faux says it was driven by a desire to help the disadvantaged and vulnerable access best-practice support.
“We thought there must be something better than telling people to travel to Sydney and visit our clinic,” he said.
“Many people who live with chronic pain struggle to manage without burdening their loved ones, or are underprivileged, on disability pensions or in complex social settings affected by homelessness, mental health issues and isolation; this program makes accessing support easier for them.
“Research has shown the program is as good as face-to-face support, in terms of self efficacy, depression and anxiety, and because it can only be referred by a doctor or allied health professional, there is an added element of safety and support for the patient.”
The program was developed with a small amount of funding from the St Vincent’s Clinic Foundation but most of the clinicians worked on the project after hours and in their spare time.
The course is available from This Way Up www.thiswayup.org.au and requires a clinician’s prescription (GP, pain physician, doctor, nurse or allied health professional). There is a minimal cost of $59.00 and there are plans to offer a 50 percent discount to those who register from one of Australia’s Tier 3 or 2 pain clinics.