Updates to Patient Education Resources: painACTION.com and Your Guide to Pain Management, 2nd Edition

An Interview with Evelyn Corsini, MSW

Evelyn Corsini, MSW has had a long career in healthcare and health education. She recently retired as the Content Manager for Inflexxion’s PainEDU.org and painACTION.com websites; in this role, she provided timely and evidence-based content for clinicians and persons with pain. Prior to her time at Inflexxion, she was a medical social worker, first at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital in pediatrics and then at Children’s Hospital in Boston. She worked with chronically ill children, adolescents, young adults and their families for over 30 years. Ms. Corsini currently serves as the co-chairwoman of the Education Council of the Massachusetts Pain Initiative.

Wendy L. Williams, BSN, M.Ed.:

Thank you for agreeing to speak with PainEDU.org regarding the additions to painACTION.com and the recent release of the second edition of its companion publication, Your Guide to Pain Management, first released in 2009. Why did you write the companion Guide originally?

Evelyn Corsini, MSW: We wanted to have a text-based “road map” for the painACTION.com website. Both the website and the Guide have the same overarching purpose: to be a resource for persons living with pain, to help them feel more in control, and to help them better manage their lives. Neither the website nor the Guide is meant to provide a complete, stand-alone pain treatment program; rather, each exists to improve the quality of life–and even add more joy to life–for those living with pain. That’s the basic idea.

WW: What was the reason for writing the second edition of the Guide?

EC: In 2009, the website and the Guide had focused on three specific types of pain: back pain, migraine pain, and cancer pain. Since then, we have expanded the website to include neuropathic pain and arthritis pain. The new Guide reflects those expanded content areas. And because of the U.S.’ involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we also felt that it was imperative to speak to the “wounded warriors” returning home from military service. The website does not currently cover issues specific to veterans, so we took the opportunity to include them in the second edition of the Guide.

WW: The “personal stories” area of painACTION.com is where the challenges of living with pain come become very real and “relatable.” What is the vision for the personal stories as a resource on the website?

EC: We aim to provide ways for readers to interact with the website by adding personal stories that come directly from painACTION.com readers. As the original content manager for the painACTION.com site, and as a medical social worker, I was humbled by the responsibility of speaking to persons living with chronic pain conditions that I didn’t share. The team collaborating on the website felt strongly that, in addition to the articles, tools, self-checks and lessons on painACTION.com, the voice of the person with pain was essential if the website was to resonate with our readers. All humans have experience with pain—physical, mental, spiritual, acute, and sometimes chronic. Although I have had some of these experiences, I don’t have the first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to live with chronic pain. It was really my 30-year background in direct patient care that provided me with the ability to identify important issues for people with chronic pain. I felt I was well-prepared to seek out, listen to, and help share patient stories that would speak to people living with pain, and to their families. We’re pleased to bring the “voice of the person with pain” to the website through these personal stories.

WW: As the new content manager, I’d like to hear more on how painACTION.com is evolving.

EC: The team working on painACTION.com has always hoped to provide information that’s relevant to anyone with chronic pain, no matter what their specific condition. Much of the background information, advice, tools, and strategies apply to many types of chronic pain. The way the website is currently organized, with sections for the most common chronic pain conditions, is a way to help people find information that’s relevant to those conditions. But much of the information on the site can also be used by people whose chronic pain doesn’t fall into one of the five sections. We’re aiming to add to the website over time so that people can find the information they need, whatever their age, gender, diagnosis, or experience. We hope to have a site that has a broad appeal for all persons with pain.

WW: Tell us who was involved in the research and writing of the painACTION.com information both on the website and in the Guide?

EC: Both the site and the Guide are built by an interdisciplinary team that includes physicians, social workers, psychologists, and professional medical writers. Blending these perspectives into a common grounded “voice” was crucial to producing the site and Guide. Kevin L. Zacharoff, M.D., Lynette Menefee Pujol, Ph.D., Aviva Schwartz, M.A., Roanne Weisman, and I worked diligently and collaboratively to compile and edit this latest edition of the Guide.

WW: How would people with chronic pain get a copy of the Guide?

EC: We distribute this publication primarily through healthcare providers. Inflexxion, Inc., the company that produces painACTION.com, PainEDU.org, and this Guide (among other publications), has grant funding that enables us to distribute the Guides at no cost to providers or patients. We rely on healthcare providers to identify patients who might benefit most from using the website or the Guide–some patients are more comfortable with reading than others. Providers can either download a PDF file of the Guide or order printed copies from the PainEDU.org website . (A brief registration process is required.) Persons with pain can also download the PDF file themselves at the painACTION.com website.