More than 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, a condition that disproportionately affects economically disadvantaged persons, ethnic minority groups, women, and older adults. As the opioid epidemic spirals out of control, new approaches to pain management are needed. CBT has been shown to be effective for chronic pain, but rigorous trials have not been conducted in populations with low socioeconomic status.
‘CBT and EDU promise to provide safe, effective, and efficient treatments for chronic pain.’
Research team from the University of Alabama enrolled 290 patients in the LAMP (Learning About My Pain) study to compare literacy-adapted psychosocial interventions (CBT versus EDU) with usual care for treating chronic pain in a disadvantaged patient population. CBT and EDU were delivered in 10 weekly 90-minute group sessions, with all information and materials modified to be accessible to patients reading at or even below the fifth grade level. At follow up, members of the CBT and EDU groups had larger decreases in pain intensity and increases in physical function scores compared with those in the usual care group.
According to the scientists, these findings strongly suggest that CBT can be simplified to improve its accessibility, while retaining its core principles and without reducing its potency. As society struggles with health care costs and the opioid crisis, CBT and EDU show promise as safe, effective, and efficient treatments for chronic pain.