Last updated on June 2019

Computerized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Assisted Life Management for Pain in Sickle Cell Disease


Brief description of study

The primary aim of this study is to test the feasibility and acceptability of implementing a multimedia computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (cCBT) program for reducing SCD pain symptoms in a single-arm pilot pragmatic clinical trial. The investigators will recruit 40 SCD patients with chronic pain and/or on chronic opioid pain treatment and randomize them 3:1 to two groups (cCBT and e-Education respectively), randomizing unevenly in order to best gather feasibility data for the cCBT. Both groups will use a mobile app to track daily pain/mood. The cCBT group will receive sessions of the CALM-SCD program to complete via mobile device and will have weekly follow-up with a care coach. The Education group will receive online education modules to complete via mobile device and will also have weekly follow-up with a care coach. The primary outcomes of the trial include feasibility (recruitment, retention, provider and patient feedback) and acceptability (sessions completed) of the CALM-SCD program.

Detailed Study Description

The objective of this study is to provide the experiences and data that will support a later, larger, and adequately powered effectiveness trial of the CALM-SCD, computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (cCBT) program. The investigators hypothesize that CALM-SCD is acceptable, i.e., patients will use it (90% of users will complete the first lesson within 3 months; 70% will complete4 sessions; 50% of users will complete all 8 sessions), and feasible, i.e., the investigators can recruit >80% of patients approached, and >90% of enrolled participants will complete their 6-month follow-up assessment. The investigators will also have preliminary data on effectiveness and hypothesize that 70% of cCBT users will achieve a >50% decline in daily pain ratings.

The investigators will enroll 40 SCD patients at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) with chronic pain to either CALM-SCD or pain education (eEducation) and follow them for 12 months. Implementation of routine stress/pain screening in the UPMC Adult Sickle Cell Clinic allows investigators to identify patients with SCD who have chronic pain as indicated by self-report "I have had pain nearly every day for at least 3 months" or have been prescribed long-acting opioids for pain.

Following confirmation of protocol-eligibility and informed consent, investigators will provide all patients with a large-screen smartphone (unless the patient owns their own compatible large-screen smartphone) with a symptoms diary app, and GPS tracking features pre-installed; this will allow investigators to track pain and mood as well as any opioid or non-opioid pain treatments used by patients, and steps traveled.

Patients enrolled in the CALM-SCD group will complete at least 4 1-hour cCBT sessions over 3 months using their personal or study-provided smartphone. Because cCBT programs are less effective without a human support component, participants will also be introduced to a care coach (master's level student tech who will receive training in CBT) who will contact them on a weekly basis by phone/text for up to 3 months. The care coach will reinforce CBT materials and encourage engagement. Participants will have continued access to the program after first 3 months, but care coach support will only be available on an as-needed basis.

Patients enrolled in the eEducation group will receive pain education through online modules that they will be asked to complete using their study-provided smartphone. Each module includes learning tasks, a reading assignment, and a short quiz based on material. The education group will receive care coach contact on the same schedule as the cCBT group. The care coach will provide supportive therapy and encouragement to complete modules and apply the lessons to their daily life.

Patients who are not eligible or who are not randomized into one of the intervention arms of this study will serve as a comparison group to ensure we are treating a representative sample of patients. Further, patients who were eligible but were not randomized into one of the intervention arms will serve as a usual care control group.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03029468

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