Marianne Matthias, PhD, talks about the tools coaches in the COOPERATE study used to help veterans advocate for their own pain management.
The tools include tools around goal setting, goal prioritization — helping people pick goals that are realistic and pick goals for their pain management that make sense in, “You do Goal A first, and then that leads to Goal B. You can’t jump to Goal B,” so focusing on that prioritization. The other set of tools is really the communication with providers about goals and about preferences and about really what they want for their own pain management. And so that involved specific activities like practicing agenda setting, which is when you go into your doctor’s office and it’s just what it sounds like, you set an agenda, you say, “Hey, today these are the things I’d like to talk about,” and you lay it out. So coaches worked with participants to do that, and they did role playing to practice that. They also worked on really good ways to ask very specific questions and to keep asking questions until they got the understanding that they were seeking or the information that they were seeking, and they would role play and practice that.
Dr. Matthias describes some of the positive feedback on the COOPERATE study.
We also did some interviews with a subset of people who completed the coaching to ask them about their experiences with the study, and the data from those interviews really corroborated and backed up what we found in our statistical analyses. People described feeling like they had more power in their doctors appointments. One person said, “Well, I now know you don’t have to be a PhD to talk to your doctor.” Someone else said, “You helped us take our appointments back.” So that’s why we want to do a larger version of the study, because we think it’s important, and we think it did make a difference for people.