Pain management programmes via video conferencing: a rapid review

Scand J Pain. 2020 Oct 7;21(1):32-40. doi: 10.1515/sjpain-2020-0112. Print 2021 Jan 27.


Objectives: During the current COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare has been transformed by the rapid switch from in person care to use of remote consulting, including video conferencing technology. Whilst much has been published on one-to-one video consultations, little literature exists on use of this technology to facilitate group interventions. Group pain management programmes are a core treatment provided by many pain services. This rapid review aimed to identify the extent of use of video conferencing technology for delivery of group pain management programmes and provide an overview of its use.

Methods: A rapid review of the literature published up to April 2020 (PubMed, PsycINFO and PEDro) was performed. The search string consisted of three domains: pain/CP (MeSH term) AND Peer group[MeSH] AND Videoconferencing[MeSH]/Telemedicine[MeSH]/Remote Consultation[MeSH]. The studies were of poor methodological quality and study design, and interventions and chronic pain conditions were varied.

Results: Literature searching yielded three eligible papers for this review. All studies had low methodological quality and risk of bias. Heterogeneity and variability in outcome reporting did not allow any pooling of data. The results demonstrated that videoconferencing for delivery of group programmes is possible, yet there is little extant literature on how to develop, deliver and measure outcomes of such programmes.

Conclusions: This review demonstrates that there is little evidence to support or guide the use of synchronous videoconferencing to deliver pain management programmes. We present issues to consider, informed by this review and our experience, when implementing video conferencing. Study quality of existing work is variable, and extensive future research is necessary.

Keywords: chronic pain; pain management programme; tele health; video conferencing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Pain Management* / standards
  • Telemedicine* / standards
  • Videoconferencing* / standards