Acceptance Commitment Therapy Lowers Anxiety In Chronic Pain Sufferers


A recent retrospective study showed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) provided substantial relief from anxiety and depression symptoms among individuals with chronic pain.

ACT, which is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), also increased the study participants’ activity levels, pain acceptance, and self-confidence.

The research participants, all with persistent pain, engaged in an eight-week group program of ACT. At the program’s start, its completion, and at a six-month followup standard assessments measured participant pain acceptance, activity engagement, self-efficacy, and their symptoms of anxiety, and depression. Over a five-year period, more than one hundred participants provided data for analysis.

Among those who completed assessments at all the evaluation points, statistically significant improvements were seen in each of the measured parameters between the program’s start, and the six-month followup.

“To further validate the role of ACT in the treatment of chronic pain, specifically in a rheumatology context, a randomized controlled clinical trial that includes measures of physical and social functioning within a Rheumatology service would be desirable,” said lead investigator Dr. Noirin Nealon Lennox, Ulster University, Northern Ireland.

CBT focuses on making people aware of how they think about things. It promotes flexibility of thought, and encourages effective behavior change. The central core of ACT is to be present with whatever life brings, and to choose behaviors in-line with one’s values. It utilizes acceptance, mindfulness techniques, personal commitment, and behavior change strategies.

The current study, presented at the 2017 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology, supports earlier research that found ACT enhanced physical functioning, and diminished distress in adults experiencing chronic pain.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Patrick Denker

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