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Helping adolescents and their parents or caregivers learn strategies to better manage chronic pain.

February 12, 2021

Pedia Pain Focus: Putting Pain Care Skills in Your Patients and Families’ Hands (Ep 49 with Dr. Rachael Coakley)

Dr. Anjana Kundu | 2/10/2021

Treatment interventions based in psychology form the mainstay of pain management, particularly for children's pain. Yet, these may not receive the due priority and/or many not be easily accessible for patients and families. Use of psychological based treatments for pain may inadvertently create stigma around the nature of the child's pain diagnosis, for patients, families and even the healthcare professionals who may not be familiar with pain management.  The end result being, inadequate pain care, mistrust, and frustration for all involved.

Dr. Rachael Coakley, PhD. of the Boston Children's Hospital shares the role of, challenges to and her innovative solution, the Comfort Ability Program, to address this gap. 


Takeaways in This Episode

The reasons for a gap in access to psychological based pain care interventions Stigma around psychological treatments and what might propagate it. Things healthcare professionals do and implement to change the perception around role of psychological treatments Use of metaphors for explanation of the pain conditions, and role of various treatments. The real hurdle in healthcare right now The message that healthcare professionals  can and should be giving the pain patients and their families Why Dr. Coakley chose to pursue pediatric pain management and the formative experience that lead her career path.  The tight rope that parents walk with their children's pain The driving force behind creation of the Comfort Ability program Elements of the Comfort Ability program, who it's for and how healthcare professionals can access and utilize it for their patients and families The mission and goal of the Comfort Ability program Dr Coakley's message for healthcare professionals. 

October 30, 2020

Talking Gut: Ep 19 Dr Rachael Coakley on Paediatric Pain Management and The Comfort Ability Program

Dr Rachael Coakley, Ph.D., is the Director of Clinical Innovation and Outreach in Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is also an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Coakley specializes in teaching children, adolescents and parents effective strategies to cope with pediatric chronic pain and pain-related stress using relaxation, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral skills.

She has published numerous articles and chapters on pediatric pain management and related topics and has presented at national and international conferences.

Dr. Coakley founded The Comfort Ability in 2011 and directs the implementation at Boston Children’s Hospital. Since its implementation, the program reach has grown to not only other states in the US, but also other countries, including Australia.

For her work with The Comfort Ability program she was granted the 2016 David Weiner Award for Innovation in Child Health.

Dr. Coakley has also published a book, titled “When Your Child Hurts: Effective Strategies to Increase Comfort, Reduce Stress and Break the Cycle of Chronic Pain” (Yale University Press), which won a 2016 National Parenting Products Award (NAPPA).

So what is the Comfort Ability?


The Comfort Ability is a fun and interactive one-day program to help adolescents and their parents or caregivers learn how to better manage chronic pain. The program teaches how pain functions in the body and introduces cognitive behavioral and biobehavioral pain management strategies. The Comfort Ability emphasizes the mind-body connection and offers non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical strategies for improved pain management.


I hope you enjoy my interview with Dr Rachael Coakley.

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