A comparative study of 2 manual-based self-help interventions, acceptance and commitment therapy and applied relaxation, for persons with chronic pain

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APA Citation: 

Thorsell, J., Finnes, A., Dahl, J., Lundgren, T., Gybrant, M., Gordh, T., & Buhrman, M. (2011). A comparative study of 2 manual-based self-help interventions, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Applied Relaxation, for persons with chronic pain. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 27(8), 716-723.

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
chronic pain, manual-based, self-help, acceptance and commitment therapy, acceptance, satisfaction with life

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to compare 2 self-help-based interventions; a coping-oriented approach, applied relaxation (AR) and an acceptance-oriented approach, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), for persons with chronic pain.

METHOD: This study is a randomized control trial (N=90) with a mixed between-within participants design with repeated measures. Interventions in both conditions comprised an initial face-to-face session, a 7-week manual-based self-help intervention including weekly therapist telephone support and a concluding face-to-face session. Outcome measures included satisfaction with life, depression, anxiety, acceptance of chronic pain, level of function, and pain intensity. Effects were measured at preintervention and postintervention and at 6 and 12 months after the end of intervention.

RESULTS:The results show that the ACT condition increased their level of acceptance significantly compared with the AR condition. There was also a marginally significant interaction effect regarding satisfaction with life in which the ACT condition had improved in comparison to the AR condition. Further, the ACT condition reported a higher level of function and decreased pain intensity compared with the AR condition. Both conditions improved significantly regarding depression and anxiety.

CONCLUSIONS: A manual-based self-help intervention with weekly therapist support in an ACT format adds value to the treatment repertoire for persons suffering with chronic pain.