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Using social media to challenge unwarranted clinical variation in the treatment of chronic noncancer pain: the “Brainman” story

Authors White R, Hayes C, White S, Hodson F

Received 25 June 2016

Accepted for publication 20 July 2016

Published 22 September 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 701—709


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael Schatman

Video abstract presented by Dr Chris Hayes.

Views: 118

Ruth White,1 Chris Hayes,1 Scott White,2 Fiona J Hodson 1

1Hunter Integrated Pain Service, Hunter New England Local Health District, Newcastle, NSW, 2Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Abstract: There is a substantial clinical variation in the contemporary treatment of chronic noncancer pain reflecting different explanatory models and treatment emphasis. Hunter Integrated Pain Service and collaborators developed three key messaging videos outlining the foundations of chronic pain treatment, thus challenging unwarranted clinical variation and calling for greater therapeutic consistency. The videos were released on YouTube as a low-cost public health intervention. Each video used an evidenced informed script appropriate for low literacy and a cartoonist to provide matching images. The whole-person approach emphasized the role of the nervous system and active self-management approaches over passively received medical treatments. The first video was launched on YouTube in August 2011 and made freely available through a Creative Commons license. Multisource feedback led to refinement of key messages using a broader advisory group. Two further videos were launched on a dedicated YouTube channel in October 2014 and circulated through varied professional and consumer networks. All videos were widely viewed on YouTube, utilized by diverse health care organizations, and independently translated into multiple languages. They were embedded in multiple health-related websites. The first video “Understanding pain in less than 5 minutes” is known to have been translated into 15 languages by other health care organizations. The subsequent two videos (Brainman stops his opioids, and Brainman chooses) were translated into German and subtitled in French and Japanese. When the organization hosting the first video ceased operation in 2015 due to changes in primary health care funding, the video had received >700,000 views. Each of the three videos continues to receive ~1,500 views per month on YouTube. Release of evidence-informed key messages via YouTube is a simple method of challenging clinical variation and providing education about chronic pain across the health care system and community.

Keywords: public health, nervous system, whole-person, YouTube

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