Keeping Complex Chronic Pain Patients Alive During and After the COVID‑19 Pandemic
Chronic pain affects nearly 20% of Canadians, and sixty percent or more of individuals with chronic pain are also struggling with mental health or substance use disorders (referred to as complex chronic pain, or CCP, patients). This is a major concern in the best of times and has become an emergency during the COVID‑19 pandemic. Now individuals suffering from chronic pain are faced with the additional challenges of quarantine, including the stress of isolation, delays in much needed medical care, and anxiety of possible infection to self or loved ones. Prior to COVID-19, psychologists at The Transitional Pain Service and the GoodHope Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Clinic at Toronto General Hospital have adapted gold standard treatments for mental health and substance use for the unique needs of individuals with CCP. We propose to develop these treatments into a virtual intervention that will meet the needs of patients during and after the COVID‑19 pandemic. We will use a mobile health application (called Manage My Pain or MMP) already in use by our patients to identify patients with CCP currently struggling with mental health issues or at risk of opioid misuse. With CIHR support, we will be able to offer treatment to these vulnerable patients throughout Ontario and Alberta from Toronto General Hospital and our partner sites at the Opioid Deprescribing Program in Calgary and the Centenary Pain Clinic in Toronto. We will also help patients with chronic pain across the country access these treatments by creating an educational website with self-help materials and information for providers. This project will provide much needed mental health care to thousands of Canadians during this crisis and will develop the infrastructure to ensure greater availability of high quality psychological care for patients with chronic pain once the crisis has passed.