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The effect of message framing on self-management of chronic pain: a new perspective on intervention?

Janke EA, Spring B, Weaver F. The effect of message framing on self-management of chronic pain: a new perspective on intervention? Psychology & Health. 2011 Jul 1; 26(7):931-47.

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This study examines framed messages as a novel approach to promote self-management of chronic pain. Primary care patients reporting chronic pain (pain rated = 4 on 0-10 NRS-I for = 3 months) were randomly assigned to receive a gain- or loss-framed message promoting self-management of pain. Impact of the framed message on behavioural self-management (including communicating with providers, relaxation, activity pacing, pleasant activities and healthy lifestyle) was assessed. Post-message, individuals in the loss-frame condition reported significantly greater interest in and more knowledge gained from the information presented in the message (p = 0.03). Loss-frame participants were significantly more likely to express confidence that they would practice relaxation (p = 0.03). Pain readiness to change, pain self-efficacy and message frame independently influenced motivation to engage in relaxation as a self-management strategy. Across all behaviours assessed, there were no observed interactions between message frame and either pain self-efficacy or pain readiness to change (p > 0.05). Framing may be useful to promote pain self-management; larger trials are needed to fully evaluate its potential and to further assess the applicability of framed communication to impact a broader range of chronic conditions.

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