In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

Guided Self-Help Programs for Chronic Pain Patients

Millions of people suffer from chronic pain, which is the leading cause of disability in the country. To manage it and find some relief, they must have various tools at their disposal. The more empowered they feel to take action to help themselves, the better off they will be. In recent research, guided self-help programs were tested to see how they stack up in assisting people in managing chronic pain.

The study was published in the January 2023 issue of the journal Pain and Therapy, which shared the findings of a Guided Self-Help program being used to see if it helped participants manage chronic pain [1]. The study included 42 people from a pain management clinic, with assessments taken before and after using the Guided Self-Help program.

Like what you’re learning?  Download a brochure for our online, postgraduate pain medicine certificate or master’s degree program in partnership with the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

The goal of such a program for those with chronic pain is to provide them with the knowledge they need to help manage the pain. The more information they have, the better empowered they feel to do things that may bring them relief. The program in the pilot study was used to help determine if such an option is feasible and useable.

The Guided Self-Help program was delivered via telehealth or in person by postgraduate students. A workbook was used to help facilitate the program, which included goal setting, pain conceptualization, improving pain literacy, and providing
knowledge of effective physical and psychological strategies to help with pain management.

Researchers found that integrating a self-help program for those with chronic pain effectively increases self-efficacy and self-management of the condition. The results show that there was a significant improvement whether people participated in 6-12 sessions.

Additionally, the psychological shift that takes place when people participate in the program can increase both autonomy and quality of life. Whether the program is delivered via telehealth, by a health coach, or provided through a pain management center, it shows promising results in helping those in need.

There is a reason why self-help books and programs are so popular. This is because people like the idea of being able to maintain autonomy and feel they are taking steps to improve their life. Integrating a self-help aspect to a pain management program for
those with chronic pain helps people feel less vulnerable and dependent. This is one more tool that can help people with chronic pain to improve their quality of life and better manage their condition.

Earn an Online Postgraduate Degree in Pain Medicine

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.


  1. Pain and Therapy. Guided Self-Help for People with Chronic Pain. January 2023.
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