INNOVATION FUND The Future of Academic Medicine Maternal, Child & Mental Health SHOWCASE 2023

Improving Access to Chronic Pain Care: A pilot window-of-opportunity study of the Power over Pain portal at The Ottawa Hospital

Maternal, Child & Mental Health

Daniel James



TOH – The Ottawa Hospital Academic Medical Organization

Patricia Poulin

(613) 737-8899 x73897


TOH – The Ottawa Hospital Academic Medical Organization


For the 1 in 5 Canadians who live with chronic pain, accessing care is a challenge. More than 50% of those referred for specialty care programs wait for 6 months to over 2 years. Improving care access is a priority given the far-reaching impacts of unmanaged pain. The Power Over Pain Portal aims to be part of the solution through offering free, evidence-informed virtual resources to people living with pain. The Portal provides education, courses, workshops, and it connects people with peer support and counselling. As such, it can complement care offered by health care providers in different settings. The goal is to ensure that people receive the right care at the right time that is tailored to their needs, motivations, and capacities. This study is the first step to evaluate the implementation of the Portal in a tertiary pain clinic, in preparation for a large-scale multi-site study.


The Power Over Pain Portal provides educational videos, courses, workshops, peer support, individual counselling, as well as self-assessments covering pain, mental health, and substance use health. This project evaluates the Power Over Pain Portal for patients on the waitlists of the Pain Clinic and Spine Services at The Ottawa Hospital.

Phase 1: We completed a 1-month pilot with 60 patients (67% female, 54±15 years of age) referred to the Ottawa Hospital Pain Clinic. We tracked completion of Portal orientation, and Portal use at 4-week follow-up. Forty-five patients (75%) completed the orientation session. All participants interviewed at follow-up (n=40; 5 unreachable) used the Portal in the previous month and the majority (n = 38) planned to continue using the Portal to support their chronic pain management.

Phase 2: We are conducting a pilot hybrid implementation-effectiveness study with 160 patients. Participants are invited to use the Portal for 3 months and complete baseline and 3-month follow-up questionnaires assessing pain and mental health outcomes. Quantitative and qualitative measures of adoption, acceptability, usability, feasibility, and fidelity are being collected. Eighty participants (% women; mean age) have been recruited and preliminary results will be presented.

Future Directions: We have received funding from Health Canada – Substance Use and Addiction Program to make the Portal publicly available, which will support our planned multi-site implementation-effectiveness study in tertiary care. The Ontario Chronic Pain Network, a network of 18 clinics funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health have committed to participate in the implementation and evaluation of the Portal. By empowering people living with pain and increasing options available for healthcare providers to augment chronic pain care in their practice, the Power Over Pain Portal has the potential to improve chronic pain management for thousands of Ontarians.

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