Internet Support for Self-Managing Neuropathic Pain

Period of Performance: 08/01/2007 - 12/31/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Inflexxion, Inc.
Newton, MA 02464
Principal Investigator

Research Topics


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Neuropathic pain (NP) exacts a huge toll on the individual, the family, and society. NP may prevent a person from working, socializing, or enjoying a family life and is associated with depressed mood and a poor quality of life. Estimates of the prevalence of NP range between 1.5% and 7.7% of the population. Traditional medical approaches to pain management have shown limited success in treating NP and "medicalize" patients, placing them in a passive role with limited emphasis on active self-management. Optimal care should engage patients in self-management so they can learn how to identify, avoid, and help manage their pain; a process wherein patient and clinical provider work together to reduce pain and improve functioning. The process requires active participation by the patient and good communication between patient and provider. Time demands leave little room for desired patient-provider collaboration, and many patients have no chance to develop self-management skills elsewhere, resulting in missed opportunities to improve the patient's well-being, function, and quality of life. Widely accessible, tailored interventions are needed to facilitate patient education and the adoption of empirically sound and theory driven behavioral self-management skills. The Internet is an excellent vehicle to help people with NP self-manage their condition. However, existing consumer-oriented pain management Websites do not offer theory driven intervention, empirically-based tailoring, or engaging interactive tools for learning new skills, tracking progress, and communicating with providers. We propose developing an interactive pain self-management Website called to fill this unmet need. The content and intervention components will be developed through an empirical process called Concept Mapping, in which input from key stakeholders (people with NP, clinical experts, and patient advocates) is used to help define the program's content and intervention components. The Website will provide clinically reliable information about diagnosis, treatment, and management of NP, written for consumers in a clear and engaging manner. A unique feature of the site will be a suite of self-assessments that provide tailored motivational feedback, along with self-management recommendations that address patient priorities and problems. No Website currently offers this combination of empirically derived self-management features and thus will represent a significant advance in NP care.