Effects of the web behavior change program for activity and multimodal pain rehabilitation: Randomized controlled trial

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Background: Web-based interventions with a focus on behavior change have been used for pain management, but studies of Web-based interventions integrated in clinical practice are lacking. To emphasize the development of cognitive skills and behavior, and to increase activity and self-care in rehabilitation, the Web Behavior Change Program for Activity (Web-BCPA) was developed and added to multimodal pain rehabilitation (MMR). Objective: The objective of our study was to evaluate the effects of MMR in combination with the Web-BCPA compared with MMR among persons with persistent musculoskeletal pain in primary health care on pain intensity, self-efficacy, and copying, as part of a larger collection of data. Web-BCPA adherence and feasibility, as well as treatment satisfaction, were also investigated. Methods: A total of 109 participants, mean age 43 (SD 11) years, with persistent pain in the back, neck, shoulder, and/or generalized pain were recruited to a randomized controlled trial with two intervention arms: (1) MMR+WEB (n=60) and (2) MMR (n=49). Participants in the MMR+WEB group self-guided through the eight modules of the Web-BCPA: pain, activity, behavior, stress and thoughts, sleep and negative thoughts, communication and self-esteem, solutions, and maintenance and progress. Data were collected with a questionnaire at baseline and at 4 and 12 months. Outcome measures were pain intensity (Visual Analog Scale), self-efficacy to control pain and to control other symptoms (Arthritis Self-Efficacy Scale), general self-efficacy (General Self-Efficacy Scale), and coping (two-item Coping Strategies Questionnaire; CSQ). Web-BCPA adherence was measured as minutes spent in the program. Satisfaction and Web-BCPA feasibility were assessed by a set of items. Results: Of 109 participants, 99 received the allocated intervention (MMR+WEB: n=55; MMR: n=44); 88 of 99 (82%) completed the baseline and follow-up questionnaires. Intention-to-treat analyses were performed with a sample size of 99. The MMR+WEB intervention was effective over time (time∗group) compared to MMR for the two-item CSQ catastrophizing subscale (P=.003), with an effect size of 0.61 (Cohen d) at 12 months. There were no significant between-group differences over time (time∗group) regarding pain intensity, self-efficacy (pain, other symptoms, and general), or regarding six subscales of the two-item CSQ. Improvements over time (time) for the whole study group were found regarding mean (P<.001) and maximum (P=.002) pain intensity. The mean time spent in the Web-based program was 304 minutes (range 0-1142). Participants rated the items of Web-BCPA feasibility between 68/100 and 90/100. Participants in the MMR+WEB group were more satisfied with their MMR at 4 months (P<.001) and at 12 months (P=.003). Conclusions: Adding a self-guided Web-based intervention with a focus on behavioral change for activity to MMR can reduce catastrophizing and increase satisfaction with MMR. Patients in MMR may need more supportive coaching to increase adherence in the Web-BCPA to find it valuable.


  • Catharina A. Nordin
  • Peter Michaelson
  • Gunvor Gard
  • Margareta K. Eriksson
External organisations
  • Norrbotten County Council
  • Luleå University of Technology
Research areas and keywords


  • Coping behavior, Pain, Patient compliance, Patient satisfaction, Rehabilitation, Self-efficacy, Web-based intervention
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere265
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Oct 1
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes