Development of an Interdisciplinary Toolkit to Address Chronic Pain in Older Adults by Capps, Marianne


Marianne Capps


Purpose: This project’s aim was to address the needs of nursing and occupational therapy practitioners in providing non-pharmacological interventions for older people with chronic pain.

Background: We identified chronic pain education as a need among clinicians, particularly clinicians’ ability to identify and implement evidence-based chronic pain interventions. We performed a literature review, which revealed evidence-based interventions, including the areas of cognitive approaches, activity modifications, and exercise.

Methods: Team members collaborated using the resources from the literature review to develop a 50-page toolkit. The toolkit provides directions, handouts, and interdisciplinary collaboration tips focused on the areas identified through literature review. Team members also created a lesson plan that can be administered by clinicians and educators in various settings to teach multi-disciplinary clinicians on how to implement the toolkit into practice.

Results: One occupational therapy scholar performed preliminary testing of toolkit interventions on an older patient with chronic pain. This revealed the importance of cultivating buy-in from older adults to improve adoption of chronic pain strategies. Future plans for this project include revising the toolkit to incorporate strategies to improve buy-in, including setting patient-centered goals. We will conduct a Plan-Do-Study-Act Cycle to pilot test the toolkit on 20 nursing students and 5 occupational therapy clinicians. We will measure changes in students’ and clinicians’ knowledge and confidence to implement non-pharmacological interventions for chronic pain and to engage in interdisciplinary collaboration.

Conclusion: This project revealed that chronic pain is highly prevalent and though resources are widely available, it is often overwhelming for clinicians to adequately learn and implement chronic pain interventions into practice due to the overwhelming volume of information. Projects such as this one can make evidence-based interventions more accessible and are necessary to improve chronic pain through non-pharmacological interventions.

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