The Effectiveness of an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Self-help Intervention for Chronic Pain

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the effectiveness of an Acceptance Commitment Therapy based self-help book for people with chronic pain.

Method

This was a randomized 2 group study design. Over a 6-week period, 6 participants read the self-help book and completed exercises from it with weekly telephone support whereas 8 others formed a wait-list control group. Subsequently, 5 of the wait-list participants completed the intervention. Participants completed preintervention and postintervention questionnaires for acceptance, values illness, quality of life, satisfaction with life, depression, anxiety, and pain. Initial outcome data were collected for 8 control participants and 6 intervention participants. Including the wait-list controls, a total of 11 participants completed preintervention and postintervention measures. Whilst completing the self-help intervention, each week participants' rated the content of the book according to reading level and usefulness, and their comprehension of the content was also assessed.

Results

Compared with controls, participants who completed the book showed improved quality of life and decreased anxiety. When data from all the treatment participants were pooled, those who completed the intervention showed statistically significant improvements (with large effect sizes) for acceptance, quality of life, satisfaction with life, and values illness. Medium effect sizes were found for improvements in pain ratings.

Conclusions

These findings support the hypothesis that using the self-help book, with minimal therapist contact adds value to the lives of people who experience chronic pain.

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