Pain Education after CANcer-project


Project description

Pain Education after CANcer-project: development and feasibility testing of a digital health platform for breast cancer survivors

Both in research and in clinical practice, interest in pain science educational interventions for treatment of persistent pain after breast cancer treatment has increased significantly over the past decades. Modern Pain Science Education (PSE) explains the neurophysiology of (chronic) pain, the nervous system’s ability to modulate and perpetuate the pain experience, and highlights the influence of other factors (such as sleep, thoughts, feelings, and culture) on pain. Despite emerging evidence, some important issues should be addressed about current methods of delivery of PSE. First, the provision of individual face-to-face sessions requires considerable resources and may be prohibitive to participation if breast cancer survivors have limited means, mobility, motivation/courage or access to such services. Second, given the complex biopsychosocial nature of persistent pain after breast cancer treatment, a personalized approach is warranted. Therefore, more blended educational approaches and eHealth modalities with individualized information might be more suitable for this specific population.

Using a digital health platform for delivering PSE is a new, innovative and meanwhile challenging approach in cancer rehabilitation. With the PECAN platform, a personalised PSE intervention can be delivered and barriers for pain self-management are removed.  Also, the PECAN platform will provide the necessary information specified to the needs of the cancer survivors by using an algorithm, instead of leaving survivors prone to Dr. Google where they drown in non-individualised information, often providing a very biomedical and threatening message. Some patients even prefer digital health platforms over human practitioners and may be significantly more willing to disclose to them information about themselves in a clinical context.

Before testing the PECAN platform on its effectiveness in a large clinical trial, the two-fold aim of the proposed project is:

  • To evaluate the content and shaping of the PECAN platform and the acceptability and comprehensibility to deliver PSE for cancer survivors with persistent pain by consumers themselves
  • Feasibility study of the digital PECAN-platform in a small group of breast cancer survivors, as preparation of a large randomized controlled trial 

> CarEdOn primary researchers: Prof. An De Groef, Prof. Mira Meeus, Prof. Nele Devoogdt

Research partners: Dra. Evenepoel Margaux, Dept. Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, University Antwerp (Belgium), Dr. Lauren C Heathcote, anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine, Stanford University (USA), Prof. Moseley Lorimer, Allied Health & Human Performance, University of South Australia (Australia), Dr. Louise Wiles, Allied Health & Human Performance, University of South Australia (Australia), Dr. Mark Catley, Allied Health & Human Performance, University of South Australia (Australia), Prof. Ian Olver, The University of Adelaide (Australia)

Funding: Internal funding of University of Antwerp (STIMPRO project)

Keywords: breast cancer, educational interventions, activity management, telehealth, pain, upper limb function, physical activity


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