Interactive voice response (IVR) systems are useful tools for healthcare providers. They help doctors’ offices remind patients about appointments, yearly checkups and the like.
IVR is also proving to be a useful tool for patients as well, both in treatment and outside of treatment. At Plum, we’ve already seen it applied to smoking cessation efforts, for example.
A study by researchers from the University of Vermont, Duke University Medical School and University of Vermont College of Medicine has shown that IVR systems can work for patients with chronic pain after they complete their therapy.
Research shows that group cognitive-behavioral therapy can help patients with chronic, untreatable pain to cope with their pain and the stress associated with it to improve their daily functioning.
But what happens when patients leave their treatment? It can be hard for them to keep up with the skills learned in group therapy when going from “initially learning skills, while working with a therapist and with considerable group support, to mastering and maintaining those skills on one’s own…”
In their study—Therapeutic Interactive Voice Response for Chronic Pain Reduction and Relapse Prevention—the researchers from Duke and Vermont added IVR to treatment of 26 subjects.
The treatment included a four-part IVR element with “a daily self-monitoring questionnaire, a [teaching] review of coping skills, pre-recorded behavioral rehearsals of coping skills, and monthly personalized feedback messages from the [cognitive behavioral] therapist based on a review of the patient’s daily reports.”
The researchers found that therapeutic IVR treatment greatly helped all 26 subjects after they left their therapy, both in strengthening their coping skills in the short term (4-month follow-up) and maintaining those skills in the longer term (8-month follow-up).
“We believe that if our findings are replicable,” the researchers wrote. “Then using the [therapeutic IVR] as a coping skill consolidation and relapse prevention program could be an efficacious and cost-effective addition to any health care program.”