Telehealth Therapy for Chronic Pain

2014-08-27 03:16:26 | BioPortfolio


The purpose of the study is to test a brief, individual psychosocial in-person or telehealth intervention to reduce interference of pain with daily life, emotional distress, and pain intensity, and improve quality of life and physical activity levels in individuals with chronic pain.


Chronic pain affects at least 15% of the veteran population and represents a high priority for the VA. In addition to primary pain conditions, chronic pain is a common secondary condition resulting from battlefield injuries, traumatic accidents, and congenital and acquired disorders. Unlike most forms of acute pain, treatment options available for patients suffering from chronic pain frequently offer only short-term or partial relief from symptoms. The focus of rehabilitative intervention thus becomes the reduction of disability and emotional distress and improvement in quality of life and activity levels.

Chronic pain rehabilitation has evolved from a primarily one dimensional, medically oriented approach to a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates a biopsychosocial formulation to pain management with physiological, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional components. This conceptualization of pain recognizes that multiple intervention modalities, including psychosocial approaches, are required when providing treatment to chronic pain patients.

A relatively new psychosocial approach to chronic pain management and rehabilitation involves acceptance of pain-related experiences. The Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) model is based on the theory that attempts to escape, avoid, or control negative experiences that cannot be changed, such as chronic pain, may paradoxically contribute to the increased experience of them. Instead of seeking to control the negative experience, ACT teaches individuals to use mindfulness strategies to enlarge the scope of experience beyond pain and to engage in behaviors that are consistent with personal values and goals when total elimination of pain or other negative experiences is not possible. Empirical support for acceptance-based approaches to chronic pain management is growing. Data from one of the first comparisons of ACT to a well-established psychosocial intervention, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), performed at VASDHS by the PI, suggests that ACT may be superior to CBT as an adjunctive treatment for chronic pain.

The proposed study assembles a multidisciplinary team with extensive experience in chronic pain interventions research to evaluate the benefits of a brief, individual psychosocial in-person or telehealth intervention which could be easily integrated into multidisciplinary pain rehabilitation programs throughout the VA system to reduce disability in veterans with chronic pain secondary to other conditions. Specifically, we propose to examine the effects of a promising new chronic pain intervention based on ACT principles on the primary outcome of pain interference and secondary outcomes of emotional distress, quality of life, physical activity, pain intensity, and treatment satisfaction among 196 veterans with chronic benign pain as a secondary condition. The participants are randomized to between-subjects design where in-person ACT intervention will be compared with telehealth ACT intervention. Outcomes include an objective measure of physical activity, actigraphy, as well as self-reported measures and will be evaluated at baseline, 4 weeks, 8 weeks (end of treatment), 3-month follow-up and at a 6-month follow-up period to investigate maintenance of gains. Telehealth sessions are conducted using secure video-conferencing equipment at the most convenient clinic for the participant. Thus, the proposed project has the potential to enhance the current VA standard of care as well as to add to the scientific literature on psychological models and rehabilitation of chronic pain.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Investigator, Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Treatment


Chronic Pain


In-Person Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Telehealth Acceptance and Commitment Therapy


VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego
San Diego
United States




Department of Veterans Affairs

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:16:26-0400

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