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      Interactive Sections of an Internet-Based Intervention Increase Empowerment of Chronic Back Pain Patients: Randomized Controlled Trial

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          Abstract

          Background

          Chronic back pain (CBP) represents a significant public health problem. As one of the most common causes of disability and sick leave, there is a need to develop cost-effective ways, such as Internet-based interventions, to help empower patients to manage their disease. Research has provided evidence for the effectiveness of Internet-based interventions in many fields, but it has paid little attention to the reasons why they are effective.

          Objective

          This study aims to assess the impact of interactive sections of an Internet-based self-management intervention on patient empowerment, their management of the disease, and, ultimately, health outcomes.

          Methods

          A total of 51 patients were recruited through their health care providers and randomly assigned to either an experimental group with full access to the Internet-based intervention or a control group that was denied access to the interactive sections and knew nothing thereof. The intervention took 8 weeks. A baseline, a mid-term after 4 weeks, and a final assessment after 8 weeks measured patient empowerment, physical exercise, medication misuse, and pain burden.

          Results

          All patients completed the study. Overall, the intervention had a moderate effect ( F 1.52=2.83 , P=.03, η 2=0.30, d=0.55). Compared to the control group, the availability of interactive sections significantly increased patient empowerment (midterm assessment: mean difference=+1.2, P=.03, d=0.63; final assessment: mean difference=+0.8, P=.09, d=0.44) and reduced medication misuse (midterm assessment: mean difference=−1.5, P=.04, d=0.28; final assessment: mean difference=−1.6, P=.03, d=−0.55) in the intervention group. Both the frequency of physical exercise and pain burden decreased, but to equal measures in both groups.

          Conclusions

          Results suggest that interactive sections as part of Internet-based interventions can positively alter patients’ feelings of empowerment and help prevent medication misuse. Detrimental effects were not observed.

          Trial Registration

          ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02114788; http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02114788 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6ROXYVoPR).

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          Most cited references 45

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          Grading the severity of chronic pain.

          This research develops and evaluates a simple method of grading the severity of chronic pain for use in general population surveys and studies of primary care pain patients. Measures of pain intensity, disability, persistence and recency of onset were tested for their ability to grade chronic pain severity in a longitudinal study of primary care back pain (n = 1213), headache (n = 779) and temporomandibular disorder pain (n = 397) patients. A Guttman scale analysis showed that pain intensity and disability measures formed a reliable hierarchical scale. Pain intensity measures appeared to scale the lower range of global severity while disability measures appeared to scale the upper range of global severity. Recency of onset and days in pain in the prior 6 months did not scale with pain intensity or disability. Using simple scoring rules, pain severity was graded into 4 hierarchical classes: Grade I, low disability--low intensity; Grade II, low disability--high intensity; Grade III, high disability--moderately limiting; and Grade IV, high disability--severely limiting. For each pain site, Chronic Pain Grade measured at baseline showed a highly statistically significant and monotonically increasing relationship with unemployment rate, pain-related functional limitations, depression, fair to poor self-rated health, frequent use of opioid analgesics, and frequent pain-related doctor visits both at baseline and at 1-year follow-up. Days in Pain was related to these variables, but not as strongly as Chronic Pain Grade. Recent onset cases (first onset within the prior 3 months) did not show differences in psychological and behavioral dysfunction when compared to persons with less recent onset. Using longitudinal data from a population-based study (n = 803), Chronic Pain Grade at baseline predicted the presence of pain in the prior 2 weeks. Chronic Pain Grade and pain-related functional limitations at 3-year follow-up. Grading chronic pain as a function of pain intensity and pain-related disability may be useful when a brief ordinal measure of global pain severity is required. Pain persistence, measured by days in pain in a fixed time period, provides useful additional information.
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            The Effectiveness of Web-Based vs. Non-Web-Based Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Behavioral Change Outcomes

            Background A primary focus of self-care interventions for chronic illness is the encouragement of an individual's behavior change necessitating knowledge sharing, education, and understanding of the condition. The use of the Internet to deliver Web-based interventions to patients is increasing rapidly. In a 7-year period (1996 to 2003), there was a 12-fold increase in MEDLINE citations for “Web-based therapies.” The use and effectiveness of Web-based interventions to encourage an individual's change in behavior compared to non-Web-based interventions have not been substantially reviewed. Objective This meta-analysis was undertaken to provide further information on patient/client knowledge and behavioral change outcomes after Web-based interventions as compared to outcomes seen after implementation of non-Web-based interventions. Methods The MEDLINE, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, ERIC, and PSYCHInfo databases were searched for relevant citations between the years 1996 and 2003. Identified articles were retrieved, reviewed, and assessed according to established criteria for quality and inclusion/exclusion in the study. Twenty-two articles were deemed appropriate for the study and selected for analysis. Effect sizes were calculated to ascertain a standardized difference between the intervention (Web-based) and control (non-Web-based) groups by applying the appropriate meta-analytic technique. Homogeneity analysis, forest plot review, and sensitivity analyses were performed to ascertain the comparability of the studies. Results Aggregation of participant data revealed a total of 11,754 participants (5,841 women and 5,729 men). The average age of participants was 41.5 years. In those studies reporting attrition rates, the average drop out rate was 21% for both the intervention and control groups. For the five Web-based studies that reported usage statistics, time spent/session/person ranged from 4.5 to 45 minutes. Session logons/person/week ranged from 2.6 logons/person over 32 weeks to 1008 logons/person over 36 weeks. The intervention designs included one-time Web-participant health outcome studies compared to non-Web participant health outcomes, self-paced interventions, and longitudinal, repeated measure intervention studies. Longitudinal studies ranged from 3 weeks to 78 weeks in duration. The effect sizes for the studied outcomes ranged from -.01 to .75. Broad variability in the focus of the studied outcomes precluded the calculation of an overall effect size for the compared outcome variables in the Web-based compared to the non-Web-based interventions. Homogeneity statistic estimation also revealed widely differing study parameters (Qw16 = 49.993, P ≤ .001). There was no significant difference between study length and effect size. Sixteen of the 17 studied effect outcomes revealed improved knowledge and/or improved behavioral outcomes for participants using the Web-based interventions. Five studies provided group information to compare the validity of Web-based vs. non-Web-based instruments using one-time cross-sectional studies. These studies revealed effect sizes ranging from -.25 to +.29. Homogeneity statistic estimation again revealed widely differing study parameters (Qw4 = 18.238, P ≤ .001). Conclusions The effect size comparisons in the use of Web-based interventions compared to non-Web-based interventions showed an improvement in outcomes for individuals using Web-based interventions to achieve the specified knowledge and/or behavior change for the studied outcome variables. These outcomes included increased exercise time, increased knowledge of nutritional status, increased knowledge of asthma treatment, increased participation in healthcare, slower health decline, improved body shape perception, and 18-month weight loss maintenance.
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              Time-limit tests: Estimating their reliability and degree of speeding

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                JMIR
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications Inc. (Toronto, Canada )
                1439-4456
                1438-8871
                August 2014
                13 August 2014
                : 16
                : 8
                Affiliations
                1Institute of Communication and Health Università della Svizzera italiana LuganoSwitzerland
                2Università degli Studi di Milano Department of Health Sciences MilanItaly
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Silvia Riva silvia.riva@ 123456usi.ch
                Article
                v16i8e180
                10.2196/jmir.3474
                4147711
                25119374
                ©Silvia Riva, Anne-Linda Camerini, Ahmed Allam, Peter J Schulz. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 13.08.2014.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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