The HAPPINESS Trial: cHAnging the Perceived Pain INtensity in divErSe Populations With Spinal Cord Injury

University of Minnesota (Other)
Overall Status
Not yet recruiting ID

Study Details

Study Description

Brief Summary

Chronic neuropathic pain affects 69% of adults with spinal cord injury (SCI). Current treatment options are limited (primarily pain medications) with insufficient benefits and significant risks for addiction and adverse effects. Of the available mind and body approaches, Qigong is the most accessible for adults with SCI with evidence for effectiveness in reducing pain, but there is insufficient evidence to make recommendations for adults with SCI. Thus, the feasibility of Qigong in SCI needs to be established.

To support our feasibility study, we investigated a 12-week remote Qigong program in adults with SCI and neuropathic pain. We recruited 23 adults with SCI, 18 completed the study, and 12 completed the 1-year follow-up. They practiced Qigong 138% of the required intensity (which was, at least 3x/week with Qigong video through the internet). Their pain was reduced by 44% after 12 weeks of Qigong practice and was still reduced at the 6-week and 1-year follow-up. However, three key elements need to be addressed before performing a larger effectiveness study: (1) feasibility/acceptability of Qigong from adults with SCI of diverse backgrounds; (2) feasibility of the study design with control group); and (3) objective outcome measures.

This R34 feasibility study, the HAPPINESS trial (cHAnging the Perceived Pain INtensity in divErSe populations with Spinal cord injury), will expand on our prior study to consolidate feasibility with a rigorous protocol. We will address the following aims: AIM 1. Identify the facilitators/barriers to participating in a Qigong study through focus groups/interviews with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, defined as Hispanics, veterans, and adults living in rural, underserved areas. AIM 2. Establish the feasibility of study design/methods of the HAPPINESS trial in adults with SCI (at least 50% of diverse backgrounds) through pre-specified targets for recruitment/enrollment, feasibility, and acceptability of design and outcomes. Using a Phase I randomized controlled trial design, 40 adults with SCI-related neuropathic pain will be randomized to 12-week remote Qigong intervention OR pain management with a 'Manage My Pain Pro app + 6-month follow-up. The study results will facilitate a rigorous structure to design larger effectiveness studies and facilitate a clear pathway for researchers to investigate Qigong and other mind-body approaches for whole-person health in diverse groups of adults with chronic/neurological disorders.

Condition or Disease Intervention/Treatment Phase
  • Behavioral: Qigong
  • Behavioral: HIPAA-compliant app: "Manage My Pain" app

Study Design

Study Type:
Anticipated Enrollment :
40 participants
Intervention Model:
Parallel Assignment
None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose:
Official Title:
cHAnging the Perceived Pain INtensity in divErSe Populations With Spinal Cord Injury
Anticipated Study Start Date :
Jan 10, 2024
Anticipated Primary Completion Date :
Jan 10, 2027
Anticipated Study Completion Date :
Jan 10, 2027

Arms and Interventions

Arm Intervention/Treatment
Experimental: Experimental group

adults with SCI-related neuropathic pain with at least 50% from diverse groups randomized to experimental group

Behavioral: Qigong
a Qigong introduction class and a 12-week remote Qigong intervention, with a 6-month follow-up

Active Comparator: Active comparison group

adults with SCI-related neuropathic pain with at least 50% from diverse groups randomized to active comparator group

Behavioral: HIPAA-compliant app: "Manage My Pain" app
Completing one short survey (2-3min) daily with a HIPAA-compliant app, called 'Manage My Pain (Pro version)" group, with a 6-month follow-up.

Outcome Measures

Primary Outcome Measures

  1. recruitment rates [6 months post-intervention]

    The proportion of potential participants contacted who agreed to participate

  2. the recruitment rate for complete and incomplete SCI [6 months post-intervention]

    Ratio of complete/incomplete SCI.

  3. Attrition rates in Qigong and Manage My Pain app group. [6 months post-intervention]

    Proportion of people withdrawing from the study in either group. Drop-out due to unrelated reasons will count as part of the general attrition.

  4. intervention adherence [6 months post-intervention]

    the website log times will indicate the date and duration that the video is accessed. From this information, we will collect the number of minutes that they practice. This information will be checked with the self-report during the weekly calls, in which they will report the number of minutes per week they have practiced.

  5. the frequency of use of the Manage My Pain app (recommended daily check in) [6 months post-intervention]

    Weekly/ monthly check-ins (reporting min/week of practice) to identify facilitators and barriers to practicing Qigong. The website logs time and duration of video access. A Qigong certified instructor will do 1:1 Qigong session with each participant via zoom monthly for quality control/to give guidance.

  6. Feasibility of adhering to the collection of quantitative measure 1 [6 months post-intervention]

    % Adherence in completing all assessments during the study and in the monthly follow-up phase

  7. Feasibility of adhering to the collection of quantitative measure 2 [6 months post-intervention]

    % Adherence to wearing the Garmin Vivosmart 5 and sending the data through their phone App

Eligibility Criteria


Ages Eligible for Study:
18 Years and Older
Sexes Eligible for Study:
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:
Inclusion Criteria:
  • 18+ years old

  • medically stable

  • with neuropathic pain above 0 on the Neuropathic Pain Questionnaire (NPQ) scale

  • willing to participate in a remote Qigong intervention (from any location with internet connection)

  • fluent in English or Spanish

  • access to the internet and a computer/iPad or smartphone

Exclusion Criteria:
  • uncontrolled seizure disorder

  • cognitive impairment and/or communicative disability (e.g., due to brain injury) preventing them from following directions or from learning

  • ventilator dependency

  • major medical complications

  • pressure ulcers hindering prolonged sitting or lying down

  • (planning to become) pregnant or planning a major surgery during the study (given study duration, regular Qigong practice, and frequent check-ins)

  • regular Tai Chi or Qigong practice in the past 6 months (3x/week or more)

  • currently engaged in other rehabilitation programs that would influence outcomes

Contacts and Locations


No locations specified.

Sponsors and Collaborators

  • University of Minnesota


  • Principal Investigator: Ann Van de Winckel, PhD, MSPT, PT, University of Minnesota

Study Documents (Full-Text)

None provided.

More Information


None provided.
Responsible Party:
University of Minnesota Identifier:
Other Study ID Numbers:
  • HAPPINESS trial
First Posted:
Nov 20, 2023
Last Update Posted:
Nov 20, 2023
Last Verified:
Nov 1, 2023
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product:
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product:
Additional relevant MeSH terms:

Study Results

No Results Posted as of Nov 20, 2023