Pilot study of an internet-based pain coping skills training program for patients with systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Kelli D. Allen, Tyler Beauchamp, Christine Rini, Francis J. Keefe, Kim L. Bennell, Rebecca J. Cleveland, Kimberlea Grimm, Katie Huffman, David G. Hu, Andres Santana, Shruti Saxena Beem, Julie Walker, Saira Z. Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) often experience pain and other symptoms that negatively impact quality of life. Interventions that enhance the use of behavioral and cognitive coping strategies may lead to improved outcomes among patients with SLE. Pain coping skills training (PCST) programs have been shown to improve outcomes among patients with other rheumatic conditions, but there have been no trials of PCST among patients with SLE. This study was a preliminary assessment of the feasibility and efficacy of painTRAINER, an automated, internet-based PCST program, among patients with SLE. Methods: Participants (n = 60) with SLE from one health care system were randomly assigned with equal allocation to painTRAINER or a wait list control group. PainTRAINER involves 8 modules; participants were instructed to complete one module weekly, along with practice activities for each cognitive or behavioral coping skill. Outcome measures were assessed at baseline and 9-week follow-up, including the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, PROMIS Subscales (Pain Interference, Physical Function, Sleep Disturbance, Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue and Participation), and the LupusPRO questionnaire. Mean changes in outcomes from baseline to follow up and Cohen’s d effect sizes were computed. Results: Effect sizes for the painTRAINER group (relative to the wait list group) were small, with changes being greatest for the PROMIS Depression score (d = − 0.32). Among those randomized to the painTRAINER group, 50% accessed the program (“painTRAINER users”). Most of those who did not access the program stated that they did not receive instructions via email. Effect sizes for “painTRAINER users” (relative to wait list) were larger than for the whole painTRAINER group: Pain Catastrophizing d = − 0.60, PROMIS Pain Interference d = − 0.3., PROMIS Depression d = − 0.44, LupusPRO Health-Related Quality of Life d = 0.30. Conclusions: PainTRAINER users reported meaningful improvements in multiple physical and psychological outcomes, supporting the potential of PCST programs to benefit individuals with SLE. However, strategies are needed to improve engagement with the program and tailor content to comprehensively address key SLE symptoms and challenges. Trial registration: NCT03933839, May 1, 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalBMC Rheumatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Coping
  • Pain
  • Systemic lupus Erythematosus


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