Annual Meeting Reviews

Applying Digital Health Intervention for Pediatric Chronic Pain

By Alyson Hermé, PhD and Alvina Rosales, PhD
Pediatric Psychologists
Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California

At the SPPM conference in the Hot Topics Session, Dr. Tonya M. Palermo delivered a lecture titled “Applying Digital Health Intervention for Pediatric Chronic Pain,” which focused on the need for technology-delivered self-management interventions for youth with chronic pain.  She highlighted that there are many barriers for youth with chronic pain to access psychological treatment, including lack of interdisciplinary pain treatment programs, long waitlists, and shortage of psychologists trained in treating chronic pain. 

Dr. Palermo and her team conducted a hybrid effectiveness and implementation study using a web-based skills training program for treating chronic pain in youth. The study participants included 143 patients across eight clinics in the United States, and engaged in pre-treatment, post-treatment, and three month follow-up assessments. Patients who engaged in WebMAP group perceived greater change in pain related disability than the control group.

Engagement with the app varied, with most youth downloading the app and completing one module; however, on 27% of youth-parent dyads completed all intervention in the app. When youth used the app, it produced significant changes, such as a decrease in pain disability.  WebMAP can be utilized as a helpful addition to chronic pain treatment.  That said, to increase engagement in treatment it may be beneficial to add additional support and have patients check in with treatment team members.

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