Nancy C. Gyurcsik, Susan M. Tupper, Danielle R. Brittain, Lawrence R. Brawley, Miranda A. Cary, Don Ratcliffe-Smith, Jocelyn E. Blouin, Mackenzie G. Marchant, James D. Sessford, Laurie-ann M. Hellsten, Bart E. Arnold, Pamela Downe
October 9, 2020
Objectives Physical activity is essential for long-term chronic pain management, yet individuals struggle to participate. Exercise professionals, including fitness instructors, and personal trainers, are preferred delivery agents for education and instruction on chronic pain, physical activity, and strategies to use adherence-promoting behavioral skills. However, exercise professionals receive no relevant training during certification or continuing education opportunities to effectively support their participants living with chronic pain. Based on the ORBIT model for early pre-efficacy phases of development and testing of new behavioral treatments, the present Phase IIa proof-of-concept study was conducted. The purpose was to examine the impacts of a newly developed chronic pain and physical activity training workshop on psychosocial outcomes among exercise professionals. Outcomes included knowledge and attitudes regarding chronic pain, attitudes and beliefs about the relationship between pain and impairment, and self-efficacy to educate and instruct participants with chronic pain. Methods Forty-eight exercise professionals ( M age =44.4±11.0 years) participated in a three-hour, in-person workshop that was offered at one of four different locations. Participants completed pre- and post-workshop outcome assessment surveys. Results Mixed MANOVA results comparing time (pre- versus post-workshop) by workshop location (sites 1 to 4) illustrated a significant within-subjects time effect ( p <0.001). All outcomes significantly improved from pre- to post-workshop ( p ′s<0.001), demonstrating large effect sizes (partial eta-squared values ranging from 0.45 to 0.59). Conclusions Findings offer early phase preliminary support for the effectiveness of the chronic pain and physical activity training workshop for exercise professionals. Based on ORBIT model recommendations, findings warrant future phased testing via a pilot randomized clinical trial as well as testing for impacts that trained professionals have on activity adherence among their clients living with chronic pain. Eventual workshop adoption by exercise professional certification organizations would ensure widespread and sustainable access to qualified exercise professionals to help individuals engage in physical activity. By increasing the capacity of available exercise professionals to deliver effective support, active individuals could better manage their chronic pain and live well.