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A brief peer support intervention for veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain: a pilot study of feasibility and effectiveness.

Matthias MS, McGuire AB, Kukla M, Daggy J, Myers LJ, Bair MJ. A brief peer support intervention for veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain: a pilot study of feasibility and effectiveness. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.). 2015 Jan 1; 16(1):81-7.

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OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to pilot test a peer support intervention, involving peer delivery of pain self-management strategies, for veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain. DESIGN: Pretest/posttest with 4-month intervention period. METHODS: Ten peer coaches were each assigned 2 patients (N? = 20 patients). All had chronic musculoskeletal pain. Guided by a study manual, peer coach-patient pairs were instructed to talk biweekly for 4 months. Pain was the primary outcome and was assessed with the PEG, a three-item version of the Brief Pain Inventory, and the PROMIS Pain Interference Questionnaire. Several secondary outcomes were also assessed. To assess change in outcomes, a linear mixed model with a random effect for peer coaches was applied. RESULTS: Nine peer coaches and 17 patients completed the study. All were male veterans. Patients' pain improved at 4 months compared with baseline but did not reach statistical significance (PEG: P? = 0.33, ICC [intra-class correlation]? = 0.28, Cohen's d? = -0.25; PROMIS: P? = 0.17, d? = -0.35). Of secondary outcomes, self-efficacy (P? = 0.16, ICC? = 0.56, d? = 0.60) and pain centrality (P? = 0.06, ICC? = 0.32, d? = -0.62) showed greatest improvement, with moderate effect sizes. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that peers can effectively deliver pain self-management strategies to other veterans with pain. Although this was a pilot study with a relatively short intervention period, patients improved on several outcomes.

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