Health Coaching for Chronic Multisymptom Illness

2019-11-13 17:56:45 | BioPortfolio


The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) labels chronic pain as one of the most extensive health care issues facing our society with "severe impacts on all aspects of the lives of its sufferers."1 Pain predominant chronic multisymptom illness (Pain-CMI, e.g., fibromyalgia) is a particularly debilitating and presumptive service connected condition for Veterans who deployed to the Gulf region. Health coaching is an appealing potential approach to improve the disability of Pain-CMI because it is personalized to the Veteran's unique goals and beliefs about Pain-CMI and it will be widely available as the VA is rolling out health coaching. The goal of this proposal is to understand if health coaching is also efficacious for a complex pain condition, Pain-CMI.



Chronic pain is one of the most common healthcare issues that Veterans face; it can be very debilitating as well as difficult to treat. Pain Predominant Chronic Multi-symptom Illness (CMI) (e.g., fibromyalgia) is a particularly debilitating and treatment-resistant chronic pain condition and a presumptive service-connected condition for Veterans who deployed to the Gulf region from 1990-2021 (VA Benefits Administration, 2018). There is an urgent need for evidence-based non-pharmaceutical treatments for chronic pain. This study will explore the efficacy of remote-delivered health coaching intervention aimed at modifying lifestyle factors of diet, exercise, social connections, stress, and sleep. The control condition will be supportive psychotherapy.

Study Aims:

Primary Aim 1: Determine if remote-delivered health coaching reduces (H1a) disability and (H2a) pain impairment as compared to remote-delivered supportive psychotherapy for Veterans with Pain-CMI. The investigators will also assess the improvement in (H1b) disability and (H2b) pain impairment at the 24-month follow-up.

Primary Aim 2: Determine if health coaching results in more frequent clinically significant improvement in (H3) disability (20%) and (H4) pain impairment (1 point) as compared to supportive psychotherapy.

Secondary Aim 3: Determine if health coaching reduces (H5) physical symptoms, (H6) catastrophizing, (H7) limiting activity and increases (H8) pain control as compared to supportive psychotherapy.

Exploratory Aim 4: Determine if the reduction in (H9) catastrophizing, (H10) limiting activity and increases in (H11) pain control mediate the relationship between health coaching and reductions in disability and pain impairment.

Study Design:

The current proposal is a randomized clinical trial to determine the efficacy of remote-delivered health coaching in reducing disability and pain impairment for Veterans with Pain-CMI as compared to supportive psychotherapy (n=250). Additionally, the investigators will explore mechanisms of change. Participants will complete four assessments at four different timepoints: baseline, 6-week mid treatment (~6 weeks after baseline), post-treatment (~12 weeks after baseline), and 24-week follow-up (~24 weeks after baseline).

Study Design


Pain Predominant Chronic Multisymptom Illness


Health Coaching, Supportive Psychotherapy


East Orange Campus of the VA New Jersey Health Care System, East Orange, NJ
East Orange
New Jersey
United States


Not yet recruiting


VA Office of Research and Development

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2019-11-13T17:56:45-0500

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