A team of researchers has recommended that acceptance and commitment therapy for eight-weeks can considerably decrease the signs of depression and anxiety in patients suffering from chronic pain.
According to researchers, the therapy, a form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that concentrates on mental flexibility and behaviour change, allowed a substantial reduction in self-reported depression and anxiety among patients taking part in a pain rehabilitation programme.
This treatment also resulted in appreciable boosts in self-efficacy, activity engagement and pain acceptance. Lead author Dr Noirin Nealon Lennox from Ulster University in Northern Ireland said that to further prove the role of ACT in the treatment of chronic pain, especially rheumatic pain, a randomised controlled clinical trial that includes amounts of physical and social functioning within a Rheumatology service would be required. ACT is a form of CBT that includes a specific therapeutic process mentioned as "psychological flexibility".
ACT focuses on behaviour change in harmony with patients’ core values rather than targeting only the lessening of symptoms. To gauge the probable advantages of an eight-week programme of group Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in people with persistent pain, degrees of pain acceptance and activity engagement were taken using the Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire.
The quantities of psychological distress using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and self-efficacy were also taken at assessment, on the final day of the programme, and at the follow up six-month check-up.
There were statistically major improvements in all aspects between baseline and at six-months follow-up, including the change in average score of depression, anxiety, self-efficacy, activity engagement and pain willingness.
In this study, patients were sent into the ACT programme by three consultant rheumatologists over a five-year period. Over one hundred patients’ resultant measures were available for a reflective analysis. The study was presented at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR) 2017.