Email to a person who experiences persistent pain

You may have read about nurses as prescribers of digital therapeutics in editorials, letters, journal articles or blogs. This is one of two blog posts demonstrating email as an adjunct to face-to-face support, and as an example of how a nurse can use/prescribe digital therapy. Naturally, it comes with the usual disclaimers about these being examples that may be of use to adapt for you/your practice, not an instruction/template for practice. One of the goals of this blog is to share ideas – that’s what this blog post is about.

Below is a sample email to a person who experiences persistent pain:

From: Paul McNamara
Sent: Friday, 27 December 2019, 11:50 AM

Subject: Suggestions

Hi Paula

It was good to meet with you today. Here are some of the ideas/suggestions we were talking about:

1. North Queensland Persistent Pain Management Service (NQPPMS)
Sus-out the info on the website:, and if you think it’s something that might be helpful have a chat to your GP about making a referral. There’s usually a bit of a wait to be seen face-to-face: all the more reason to get the ball rolling sooner rather later, I reckon.

2. Free online pain course
This course by MindSpot is considered credible, and would be good “homework” to try for yourself while waiting to hear back from NQPPMS people. I’ve heard good things about it from other nurses and doctors, but haven’t heard back from any patients about it yet. If you do go ahead and give it a go, I’d be keen to hear what you think of it.
Course via

3. Counselling/psychological support
Like we were talking about today: the brain lives in the body, so of course the body and the brain influence each other. Pain affects-, and is affected by-, both the brain and the body.

For face-to-face support, the easiest way to access that is via a GP Mental Health Plan/Referral – check with the reception staff @ your GP’s rooms if you decide to ahead with this (a lot of GPs prefer a double appointment when doing a Mental Health Plan/Referral).

If getting to see someone face-to-face is going to be a bit tricky,  there is free, confidential 24/7 telephone and online counselling support available via NQConnect: phone 1300 059 625 and/or visit

4. The just-in-case bit
I have no concerns about you being profoundly depressed or suicidal at the moment Paula, but we know that living with pain can be a risk factor for suicidal thoughts. Just in case you get to that dark place again, It would be a good idea if you store the 24 hour number for community mental health’s Acute Care Team in your phone. The number = 1300 64 2255 (1300 MH CALL).

That’s it for me. I hope some of these suggestions are useful Paula – you have a positivity and sense-of-humour that gives me a lot of hope that things will get better. Naturally, I’m happy for you to contact me directly if you’d like clarification or elaboration.

Kind regards,


End Notes

If you’ve seen me in my clinical practice and have received an email similar to the one above, please accept my explanation that this blog post is just to share an idea about integrating digital therapeutics into everyday clinical practice. I’m a bit anxious that seeing the info online rather than as a one-to-one email may call into question the authenticity of the original email. At my end it doesn’t. I do recycle some sentences/paragraphs when I’m emailing a person after meeting them face-to-face, but the email is always tweaked to reflect the uniqueness of each therapeutic engagement. I’d be horrified if the blog post causes offence or dilutes the authenticity of our meeting, and sincerely apologise if it does.

Please also see this blog post’s companion piece, “Email to a suicide survivor“.

As always, your feedback is welcomed in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 27 December 2019

Short URL

References/Further Reading

Ferguson, C., Hickman, L., Wright, R., Davidson, P. & Jackson, D. (2018) Preparing nurses to be prescribers of digital therapeutics, Contemporary Nurse, 54(4-5): 345-349.
doi: 10.1080/10376178.2018.1486943

Søgaard Neilsen, A. & Wilson, R.L. (2019) Combining e‐mental health intervention development with human computer interaction (HCI) design to enhance technology‐facilitated recovery for people with depression and/or anxiety conditions: An integrative literature review. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 28(1): 22-39.
doi: 10.1111/inm.12527

Wilson, R.L. (2018) The right way for nurses to prescribe, administer and critique digital therapies, Contemporary Nurse, 54(4-5): 543-545.
doi: 10.1080/10376178.2018.1507679

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