What is The Chronic Pain Self Management Program (CPSMP)?

The Chronic Pain Self Management Program (CPSMP) is a community course which people with chronic pain attend together. The CPSMP was developed for people who have a primary or secondary diagnosis of chronic pain. Pain is defined as being chronic or long term when it lasts for longer than 3 to 6 months, or beyond the normal healing time of an injury.

Examples of chronic pain conditions are; chronic musculo-skeletal pain (such as neck, shoulder or back pain), fibromyalgia, whiplash injuries, chronic regional pain syndromes, repetitive strain injury, chronic pelvic pain, post-surgical pain that lasts beyond 6 months, neuropathic pain (often caused by trauma), or neuralgias (such as post-herpetic pain, and trigeminal neuralgia), and post stroke or central pain. The CPSMP may also benefit those who have conditions such as persistent headache, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, or those who experience severe muscular pain due to conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

The small group courses are 6 weeks long, meeting once a week for 2 hours 30 minutes, and are led by at least one peer leader with chronic pain. The sessions are highly interactive, focusing on building skills, sharing experiences and support. The course teaches the life skills needed in the day-to-day management of chronic pain and to embrace life's opportunities.

Subjects covered in CPSMP include:

  • Techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, isolation, and poor sleep
  • Appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance
  • Appropriate use of medications
  • Communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals
  • Nutrition
  • Pacing activity and rest
  • How to evaluate new treatments

Each participant in the workshop receives a copy of the companion books, Living a Healthy Life With Chronic Conditions, and Chronic Pain Workbook.


Organisations wanting to offer CPSMP courses need a minimum of two course Leaders and a multiple program license from Stanford University. For organisations to have their own in-house training capacity two Master Trainers are required. For more information about licensing requirements, please Contact Us or see http://patienteducation.stanford.edu/licensing/

People wanting to be trained in Chronic Pain Self Management Program must first undertake CDSMP training as this provides the necessary foundational skills. Cross Trainings in the Chronic Pain Program takes 1-2 days depending on the format in which the training is delivered.


The CPSMP, was developed by Sandra LeFort in 1996 at McGill University in Montreal and later updated at Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, with Lisa Cardas, of Toronto, Ontario. The CPSMP was developed in conjunction with Prof Kate Lorig and the staff of the Stanford Patient Education Research Center. It was derived from Stanford's Arthritis Self-Management Program and the Chronic Disease Self-Management program. It was revised in 2008 and a new Chronic Pain Workbook was written to accompany the program.

Like the other Stanford self-management programs, the CPSMP has also been rigorously evaluated in two randomized clinical trials funded by Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The research studies found that, on average, people who have participated in the CPSMP have more vitality or energy, less pain, less dependence on others, improved mental health, are more involved in everyday activities, and are more satisfied with their lives compared to those who have not taken the program. The program has also been delivered and evaluated across 10 pain clinics in Ontario, Canada. Evaluation of the program found it to be beneficial for participants in terms of coping skills, education, and overall quality of life.


LeFort S, Gray-Donald K, Rowat K & Jeans M. Randomized controlled trial of a community-based psychoeducation program for the self-management of chronic pain. Pain, 74, 297-306, 1998

Contact Us and we can email you a copy of the full paper.