Living with pain: An evaluation report of the Wagga Wagga Red Cross project for humanitarian migrants who live with pain

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The aim of the Australian Red Cross Living with Pain Project was to assist humanitarian migrants living in the Wagga Wagga area who live with chronic pain.
The project that was evaluated consisted of fifteen sessions. Seven sessions were part of the initial group formation, and eight sessions has a specific focus on pain education and general management. Of the eight sessions focuses on pain, four were conducted by a Physiotherapist on a fortnightly basis with four reflection sessions interspersed on the alternating weeks.
The sessions were conducted at the Red Cross in Wagga in person.
The ladies who took part in the project were humanitarian migrant Yazidi women living in Wagga Wagga in NSW Australia. Fourteen women registered to take part in the project. The women spoke little to no English and a translator was required for all the sessions and the interviews as part of the evaluation.
Ten ladies from the project were involved in the evaluation of the project and took part in an interview to provide feedback on their experience in the project.
A focus group and interview were conducted with the five facilitators of the project and the Physiotherapist who provided the specific pain sessions.
The data from the interviews and focus groups was analysed by two researchers who wrote this report.
Eleven key themes were identified from the interviews with the ladies:
1. My mind is elsewhere
2. We can’t forget our pasts
3. Not remembering
4. Peacocks and lions
5. Headaches and migraines
6. Shifting focus
7. Role of medications
8. Making friends
9. Expectations should be addressed prior to group attendance
10. The group should be about more than pain
11. Group context
Four overarching themes were identified from the analysis from the facilitators’ focus group and Physiotherapist’s interview. Within each of the four themes there were multiple subthemes:
1. Social aspects of the group
1.1. Social Connections: It’s a place that’s providing a social ground for them
1.2. Attendance: we don’t know what’s happened in their world
2. Learning
2.1. Group Formation- A Tangible Hook
2.2. Development of teaching materials- “We don’t know, you tell us”
2.3. A cultural Lens: “Make it as relevant and culturally sensitive as possible”
2.4. Location of Sessions: “A SAFE SPACE”
2.5. Language barriers: keep the language quite simple and chunk it down
2.6. Reflection Sessions: That was really helpful
2.7. Experiential Learning for active strategies: “letting them touch and feel or experience”
3. Making sense of pain
3.1. Making sense of their Pain: not as tainted by a bio-medical model
3.2. Behaviour Change and Management Strategies: did it change once they left the room
4. The impact of trauma
4.1. Past traumatic experiences: It came up every session

The researchers used the findings from both the ladies and facilitators to develop eleven key recommendations for the Red Cross to assist in the design and planning of future projects:
1. To encourage participation and manage expectations, a clear outline of the project schedule should be presented to participants prior to commencement of the project
2. Recognise that participants are keen to commence pain management strategies as soon as possible.
3. Consider grounding the project within an educational paradigm
4. Recognise it may be easier for participants to provide feedback on a draft plan of topics.
5. New ideas take time to learn, thus, repeated opportunities and fun ways to learn new things should be provided.
6. Education about pain and its management should be presented in small doses and as experientially as possible.
7. Recognise the learning difficulties and limited practice opportunities that refugees encounter.
8. Recognise participants varying capacity to talk about the past.
9. Gain feedback at the end of each session to overcome the memory issues of the group members.
10. The group should be about more than pain education
11. A consistent space should be used for the location of the group

In addition, six key messages for the ladies were developed to reinforce ideas that were presented during the project and based upon their feedback.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCharles Sturt University
Commissioning bodyAustralian Red Cross
Number of pages46
ISBN (Electronic)9781864674316
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2022


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