The current approach to pain education for patients undergoing breast cancer surgery is restricted to the biomedical model. This is an outdated approach to pain management as the pain neuroscience (PNE) and the biopsychosocial model has been proven to be much more successful in helping people overcome pain. This study therefore aims to investigate the effectiveness of this PNE intervention, in addition to best evidence physical therapy modalities for treatment and prevention of pain, physical, emotional and work-related functioning after breast cancer surgery, compared with a traditional biomedical educational intervention.
The trial which is a double-blinded RCT started in November 2017 and will be completed 18 months post surgery so expect preliminary results towards the tail end of 2019 if not early 2020.
In terms of the treatment participants receive, immediately after breast cancer surgery all participants (n=184) receive a 12-week intensive standard physical therapy programme. Three additional refresher sessions at 6, 8 and 12 months postsurgery are also part of the package. In addition, participants receive three educational sessions during the first-month postsurgery and three ‘booster sessions’ at 6, 8 and 12 months. In the intervention group, the content of the education sessions is based on the modern PNE approach whereas in the control group, the education is based on the traditional biomedical approach. The primary outcome parameter is pain-related disability 1 year after surgery. Secondary outcomes related to other dimensions of pain, physical, emotional and work-related functioning at 1-week, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 18 months postsurgery.