Acceptance-based treatment for persons with complex, long standing chronic pain: A preliminary analysis of treatment...

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APA Citation: 

McCracken, L. M., Vowles, K. E., & Eccleston, C. (2005). Acceptance-based treatment for persons with complex, long standing chronic pain: A preliminary analysis of treatment outcome in comparison to a waiting phase. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 43, 1335-1346.

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
Chronic Pain, Cognitive Behavioral Treatment, Acceptance

The concept of acceptance is receiving increased attention as an alternate approach to the suffering that is often associated with persistent and disabling pain. This approach differs from established treatments in that it does not principally focus on reducing pain, but on reducing the distressing and disabling influences of pain as they concern important areas in patients’ lives. The present analyses represent a preliminary evaluation of an acceptance-based approach to chronic pain within an interdisciplinary treatment program. One hundred and eight patients with complex chronic pain conditions completed treatment and provided data for the current study. Treatment was conducted in a three or four-week residential or hospital-based format. It included a number of exposure-based, experiential, and other behavior change methods focused on increasing (a) engagement in daily activity regardless of pain, and (b) willingness to have pain present without responding to it. Significant improvements in emotional, social, and physical functioning, and healthcare use were demonstrated following treatment. The majority of improvements continued at three-months post treatment. Improvements in most outcomes during treatment were correlated with increases in acceptance, supporting the proposed process of treatment.

108 chronic pain patients with a long history of treatment are followed through an ACT-based 3-4 week residential treatment program. Measures improved from initial assessment to pre-treatment on average only 3% (average of 3.9 month wait), but improved on average 34% following treatment. 81% of these gains were retained through a 3 month follow up. Changes in acceptance predicted positive changes in depression, pain related anxiety, physical disability, psychosocial disability, and the ability to stand. Positive outcomes were also seen in a timed walk, decreased medical visits, daily rest due to pain, pain intensity, and decreased pain medication use.
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