Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Stanford Chronic Pain Self-Management Program: An Interview with Workshop Leader Orvie Prewitt

I cannot think of a better way to wind down “September Awareness of Chronic Pain” than by sharing with an interview I did with Orvie Prewitt on the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program.


Setting goals when living with chronic pain can be difficult and rewarding. Orvie Prewitt knows this first hand, and she knows what a good self-management program can do to help us move forward in our lives.

Orvie is the “Program Coordinator” for the Kansas City Regional Arthritis Center (KC-RAC). The KC-RAC is one of Missouri’s seven Regional Arthritis Centers, which allows the State of Missouri to provide programs and services through the National Council on Aging. No other state utilizes RACs to provide programs/services through funding from Prevention as well as the National Council on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control. It would be wonderful if the CDC will also support the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program because it would be a great fit for their arthritis program funding. Pain is at the top of the list of symptoms for arthritis.

An Introduction to the Stanford Program

 “I believe the Stanford Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CPSMP) is exceptional because it has something for everyone. Tips, tools, techniques, and more are presented, and everything can be modified to each participant’s tolerance level. I know chronic pain can be overwhelming, sometimes to the point of paralyzing how we cope day-to-day, hour-to-hour, or even minute to minute. But we have choices, even on those days when we convince ourselves we have none. We are presented with basic choices every day, but we don’t give them due credit. One of those choices is whether or not we will get out of bed.”   

~Orvie Prewitt

About Orvie’s Connection with the Program        

Orvie is a Trainer/Leader for both the Stanford ChronicDisease Self-Management Program and the Diabetes Self-Management Program. She originally took the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program herself, so she knows of what she speaks from a unique perspective. Her personal goal as a “peer leader” is to help us understand we can achieve a better quality of life despite living with chronic pain.

Orvie Tells Us about the Program

I asked Orvie for some specific information regarding the program, such as how it was developed and how it is evaluated.

From here on, we will refer to the Stanford Chronic Pain Self-Management Program as CPSMP.

The CPSMP was developed by Sandra LeFort, PhD, MN, RN in 1996 at McGill University in Montreal and that it was later updated at Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, with Lisa Cardas, RN of Toronto. The CPSMP was developed in conjunction with Dr. Kate Lorig and the staff of the Stanford Patient Education Research Center.  In 2015, the program was revised for a second time and a new book, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Pain, was written to accompany the program.
Stanford says a program must have evidence-based research showing it is effective before releasing it for organizations to use. In two randomized clinical trials funded by Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) they found:

  • Participants had more vitality or energy, less pain, less dependence on others, improved mental health, and they are more involved in everyday activities.
  • They are more satisfied with their lives compared to those who have not taken the program.
  • Evaluation of the program across 10 pain clinics in Ontario, Canada found it to be beneficial for participants in terms of coping skills, education, and overall quality of life.
To date, the program has been delivered to hundreds of individuals with chronic pain.

Why the Program Works

Like other Stanford self-management programs, the CPSMP is led by a pair of peer leaders who understand because they too live health problems. Orvie says she learns something new every time she co-leads a CPSMP, because the program is very interactive and allows everyone to share with, and learn from, others.

She says there are seven topics for effective self-management of chronic pain, which must be strictly adhered to in the CPSMP.

  1. Techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, isolation, and poor sleep
  2. Appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance
  3. Appropriate use of medications
  4. Effective communication with family, friends, and health professionals
  5. Nutrition
  6. Pacing activity and rest
  7. How to evaluate new treatments

“Self-management is a key component that
enhances the medical care we receive.”

A buddy system is started the 2nd session of the CPSMP. Orvie says she and her co-peer leader encourage participants to continue to communicate after the CPSMP. However, since it is a self-management program, Stanford will not allow Leaders to collect contact information to share. Someone in the group coordinates this, if desired. And, Orvie says the KC-RAC has found participants are staying in touch.

Workshop/Program Details

Like all the Stanford Self-Management Programs, Orvie says the CPSMP insures privacy according to HIPPA guidelines.


  • Are preset by the Stanford program 
  • Approximately two hours sessions
  • Once a week for six weeks


  • Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions (book)
  • Moving Easy (CD)
  • Participants can keep materials for their home use

There is suggested reading between meetings, but it is not mandatory since this is a self-management class.


The cost to attend as a participant is dependent on the organization offering the program.


If you are interested in attending, becoming a peer leader, or facilitating a Stanford Chronic Pain Self-Management Program through an organization in your area, here is what you can do.                 

 “ I am constantly reminded I have a responsibility to be an active self-manager if I want to have the best quality of life possible. I find strength from others and it feels really good to see a participant have that “aha” moment when they realize there is something they can do, be it ever so small, to help themselves.”

Three words Orvie would use to describe her experience:
Informative — Thorough — Stimulating

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain ProAdvocate

Learn more about what you can do to help your body function to its potential in the books you can find here on Celeste's  blog

All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  

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