Efficacy and Cost-effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Applied Relaxation for Longstanding Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Background and Objectives:

To date, few studies have compared Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for longstanding pain with established treatments. Only 1 study has evaluated the cost-effectiveness of ACT. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of ACT and applied relaxation (AR) for adults with unspecific, longstanding pain.

Materials and Methods:

On the basis of the inclusion criteria 60 consecutive patients received 12 weekly group sessions of ACT or AR. Data were collected pretreatment, midtreatment, and posttreatment, as well as at 3- and 6-month follow-up. Growth curve modeling was used to analyze treatment effects on pain disability, pain intensity, health-related quality of life (physical domain), anxiety, depression, and acceptance.

Results:

Significant improvements were seen across conditions (pretreatment to follow-up assessment) on all outcome measures. Pain disability decreased significantly in ACT relative to AR from preassessment to postassessment. A corresponding decrease in pain disability was seen in AR between postassessment and 6-month follow-up. Pain acceptance increased only in ACT, and this effect was maintained at 6-month follow-up. Approximately 20% of the participants achieved clinically significant change after treatment. Health economic analyses showed that ACT was more cost-effective than AR at post and 3-month follow-up assessment, but not at 6-month follow-up.

Discussion:

More studies investigating moderators and mediators of change are needed. The present study is one of few that have evaluated the cost-effectiveness of ACT and AR and compared ACT with an established behavioral intervention, and the results provide additional support for behavioral interventions for longstanding pain.

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