Workshop for those with chronic pain


By Lynette Drawn-Williamson
Coordinator for Better Choices Better Health

The Allegheny County Better Choices, Better Health® program (also known as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program) is a free six-week workshop that provides tools for living a healthy life with chronic health conditions, including arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, COPD, and other conditions that affect your daily life.

Through weekly sessions, the workshop provides support for continuing normal daily activities and dealing with the emotions that chronic conditions may bring about.

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program was developed at Stanford University in 1996. This is a workshop for adults given for two and half hours, once a week, for six weeks, in community settings such as senior centers, churches, libraries, and hospitals. People with different chronic health problems attend together. Workshops are facilitated by two trained leaders, one or both of whom are non-health professionals with a chronic disease themselves.

Subjects covered in the workshops include: 1) techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain, and isolation, 2) appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance, 3) appropriate use of medications, 4) communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals, 5) nutrition, and 6) how to evaluate new treatments. Each participant in the workshop receives a copy of the companion book, Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions.

Positive Outcomes

In a Stanford study, people who participated in the program demonstrated significant improvements in exercise, cognitive symptom management, communication with physicians, self-reported general health, health distress, fatigue, disability, and social/role activities limitations. They also spent fewer days in the hospital, and there was also a trend toward fewer outpatient visits and hospitalizations.

It is the process in which the program is taught that makes if effective. Classes are highly participative, where mutual support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health and maintain active and fulfilling lives.

For more information or to register, call 412-237-6582 or email

You can also click here to see a list of class sites, register for a class, or learn how to become a Peer Leader.

To learn more about taking the class online, click here.

Northside Chronicle Donation