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New UMass Boston Pain Study for Seniors

If you live in the City of Boston and suffer from chronic pain, there’s a new study at UMass Boston’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences that aims to help older people who live with pain stay active and independent.

From 2014 to 2017 the College had a grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, to do a small study in the Boston area to test different types of exercise. Researchers compared mind- body exercise to gentle physical exercise in a group of 54 older adults with chronic pain. They found people were able to do both types of exercise, and the study suggested some health benefits from the mind-body program.

HELP 2 Study

The purpose of this new HELP 2 study, also conducted by the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, is to collect more information about what older adults think about joining mind-body exercise programs such as Tai Chi.

Researchers will use this information to plan a bigger study of Tai Chi exercise for older adults who live with chronic pain, to help them stay as healthy as possible and to continue to live independently.

The researchers are highly qualified and accomplished research scientists: Suzanne Leveille, PhD RN, Principal Investigator, Department of Nursing; and, Tongjian You, PhD, Principal Investigator, Department of Exercise and Health Sciences.

Participants must be 65 or older, and live in Boston.

What Participants Will Do

For the HELP 2 study, the College is conducting 3 pilot studies:

1. A telephone interview study to find out which adults living in the community might be eligible for the next exercise study

2. A focus group study which will involve a one-time, online discussion group about older adults’ experiences and interests in mind-body exercise

3. A small study of a short course of mind-body exercise, with 2 online classes per week for 4 weeks

Why Should You Participate?

As a research volunteer, you’re contributing to an important scientific effort which may benefit many people in the future.

Researchers will use the information gathered in the HELP 2 Study to find ways to use mind-body exercise to help older people in chronic pain be healthy and get around safely. Data used for analysis in this research and for publications will be identified numbers only. No participant names will be used.

Participants receive a $20 gift card for joining either the interview or focus group studies. Those who join the exercise group will have a free, 4-week long exercise program. To reimburse participants for their time and effort in the exercise study, stipends will be provided before and after the exercise course: $25 for the baseline interview, and $50 for the final interview.

To keep participants safe during the pandemic, there will be no in-person meetings for the study.

If you or someone you know might be interested in taking part in the HELP 2 study, be in touch with the researchers at 617.952.1301.

(Photo of UMass Boston originally appeared in The Boston Globe)

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