The effect of message framing on self-management of chronic pain: a new perspective on intervention?

Psychol Health. 2011 Jul;26(7):931-47. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2010.514606. Epub 2011 May 24.


This study examines framed messages as a novel approach to promote self-management of chronic pain. Primary care patients reporting chronic pain (pain rated ≥ 4 on 0-10 NRS-I for ≥3 months) were randomly assigned to receive a gain- or loss-framed message promoting self-management of pain. Impact of the framed message on behavioural self-management (including communicating with providers, relaxation, activity pacing, pleasant activities and healthy lifestyle) was assessed. Post-message, individuals in the loss-frame condition reported significantly greater interest in and more knowledge gained from the information presented in the message (p≤0.03). Loss-frame participants were significantly more likely to express confidence that they would practice relaxation (p≤0.03). Pain readiness to change, pain self-efficacy and message frame independently influenced motivation to engage in relaxation as a self-management strategy. Across all behaviours assessed, there were no observed interactions between message frame and either pain self-efficacy or pain readiness to change (p>0.05). Framing may be useful to promote pain self-management; larger trials are needed to fully evaluate its potential and to further assess the applicability of framed communication to impact a broader range of chronic conditions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Persuasive Communication*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Self Care*