In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

Can school nurses help adolescents with chronic pain?

Chronic pain is something that can impact people of all ages. There are many studies being done over the years that try to find ways to help people find relief. While ones that focus on adolescents experiencing chronic pain are not as common, when there is information that becomes available, it is helpful for those who work with chronic pain patients to be aware of it. One new study put a program to that test that puts the school nurse in the role of helping adolescents with chronic pain.

The study results are published in the July 2023 journal Paediatrics & Neonatal Pain [1]. The study focused on helping adolescents who experience chronic pain by using a program called Help Overcoming Pain Early (HOPE). The program has been designed to be school-based and centers on the person, with the school nurse administering the program. With it being done at school it makes it more convenient for students to participate in the program.

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The study included 21 adolescents who have chronic pain. Over five weeks, they participated in the HOPE program at their school. The program is given to them by the school nurse, and it uses different strategies to help them address their chronic pain and be able to regain more control over their life.

The program’s theme focuses on “becoming myself again,” with sub-themes that include trust as a pillar for growth, making sense of my life with pain, and putting myself into the world again. The students who participated in the study had to trust the school nurse to be willing to engage in the program and to be ready to change. The HOPE program aims to help them regain their trust in their bodies while they receive support from the school nurse.

The researchers identified trust as a pillar that was fundamental for adolescent growth. When they trusted the school nurse and were able to talk to them about their emotions, they gained an ability to understand more about what they were experiencing, as well as ways to deal with it.

The study concludes that the HOPE program offers promising results for adolescents who suffer from chronic pain. The trust-building process led to their self-confidence growth so that they could handle and have more control over their situation. Knowing this, it may be helpful for school nurses to consider offering the program to their students with chronic pain.

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Like what you’re learning? Consider enrolling in the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC’s online, competency-based certificate or master’s program in Pain Medicine in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

This article was originally published on Confronting Chronic Pain by Dr. Steven Richeimer, Director Pain Medicine Master and Certificate.


  1. Paediatrics & Neonatal Pain. Adolescents’ experiences of Help Overcoming Pain Early – a school based person-centered intervention for adolescents with chronic pain. July 2023.
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