The benefits of attending pain management programmes for veterans

King Edward VII’s Hospital has carried out a clinical study of veterans who have attended their established veteran-specific pain management programme (PMP). The study looked at the first 164 veterans who attended 19 PMP’s.

99% of the veterans who attended the PMP suffered from pain in multiple sites for a mean duration of 15.6 years. The average age of veterans who attended the PMP was 45 years, ranging from 27 – 70.

Of the 148 veterans that were deployed, most served in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Falkland Islands and Northern Ireland. Sixteen veterans were not deployed during their service.

The PMP combined cognitive behavioural treatment, with more recent developments from mindfulness-based CBT for pain and compassion-focused therapy.

Standard pain management strategies were also adapted to meet the specific needs of the veteran population. This included recognising the tendency of veterans to use demanding activity to manage post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and often the inappropriate use of medication to manage increased pain.

Outcomes across pain, mood, function, confidence and changes in medication use were measured.

The veterans made proven improvements in self efficiency, confidence, and mood, including those with co-existing PTSD on completion of the PMP.

The aim of the programme is for veterans to feel more able to manage their lives alongside ongoing pain conditions. This includes engaging in more meaningful activities, returning to paid and unpaid employment, and able to spend more time with family and friends.

At the end of the programme, the data showed that 43% of all veterans reduced medication with 25% of all veterans actually stopping all use of medication.

Other findings were that 70% of veterans attending the PMP experienced Complex PTSD alongside their pain conditions. There was a very high attendance record, and 96% of veterans completed the programme.

The study demonstrates the benefit of using a PMP model of care where it is adapted for the specific needs of veterans. And there is an experienced clinical pain management team, treating veterans with comorbid chronic pain and PTSD, as well as those without PTSD.

Read the detailed study.

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