Results of a pilot study conducted by Royal Holloway, University of London, and published this month in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, suggests that the administration of contextual cognitive behavioral therapy (CCBT) may ease psychological stress in chronic back pain patients, making their physiological treatment more effective. The researchers believe that the integration of CCBT and physiological therapies may result in better treatment outcomes at reduced treatment costs. CCBT focuses on accepting pain that cannot be cured, and teaching patients how to live fuller lives in the presence of their condition.
The pilot study recruited 89 patients with low back pain, who were randomly assigned to receive CCBT or physiotherapy for 8 weeks over an 18 month period. CCBT was delivered by trained psychologists on a 1-to-1 basis, and comprised up to 8 sessions. The study participants had low back pain for at least 3 months and were “fear avoidant,” or characterized by high levels of psychological distress and avoidance of everyday activities. The study found a consensus among both patients and providers that the best outcomes were achieved through a combination of physiotherapy and CCBT. Additionally, participants reported that CCBT was most effective when delivered 1-on-1 by a trained psychologist vs in a group therapy setting.
To read the Pain Reporter's interview with Professor Tamar Pincus, corresponding author of this study, click here.
To read more about a recent trial for chronic back pain, which reported mixed results, click here.
To read about the NIH Pain Consortium’s recommendations for consistency in the study of chronic low back pain, click here.
Read a news story about the research, with link to the journal article and to a press release from the University, here.