Fibromyalgia: Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Encouraging Results for New Therapeutic Protocol for Fibromyalgia Symptoms

New research on patients with fibromyalgia finds that engagement with online acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) when undertaken in conjunction with treatment as usual (TAU) produced significantly improved outcomes in disease measures including pain, pain acceptance, depression, and sleep, as compared to usual treatment alone. The research team from the University of Manitoba sought to follow up on previous research that returned encouraging results on ACT, by testing the efficacy on online ACT administration in combination with standard treatment for fibromyalgia. 67 subjects with fibromyalgia were randomly assigned to a combined ACT/TAU regimen or TAU alone. Disease impact was assessed using the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire and self-report measures. 70% of online ACT recipients were assessed as responders to the treatment, and the authors concluded that online ACT can provide measurable benefits to fibromyalgia sufferers.

ACT is a cognitive behavioral therapy intervention that employs mindfulness and acceptance strategies. The objective is to foster the development of psychological flexibility through acceptance, present-moment thinking, cognitive diffusion, self as context, connecting with personal values, and willingness and commitment. Study author Gregg Tkachuk, PhD, CPsych, assistant professor in the department of clinical health psychology, Max Ray College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, commented, “This study is important for two reasons. One, it provides evidence that ACT…can be particularly helpful for people with chronic pain conditions such as FM, for which sustained symptom reduction tends to be less obtainable; and two, it suggests a method of delivering ACT to many people with FM who may otherwise not be able to obtain help due to limited access to trained clinicians and treatment centers, or prohibitive costs.” The findings were reported last week in Journal of Pain.

Read about the study conclusions.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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