A comparative study of cognitive behavioural therapy and shared reading for chronic pain

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Abstract

The case for psychosocial interventions in relation to chronic pain, one of the most common health issues in contemporary healthcare, is well-established as a means of managing the emotional and psychological difficulties experienced by sufferers. Using mixed methods, this study compared a standard therapy for chronic pain, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), with a specific literature-based intervention, shared reading (SR) developed by national charity, The Reader. A 5-week CBT group and a 22-week SR group for patients with chronic pain ran in parallel, with CBT group members joining the SR group after the completion of CBT. In addition to self-report measures of positive and negative affect before and after each experience of the intervention, the 10 participants kept twice-daily (12-hourly) pain and emotion diaries. Qualitative data were gathered via literary-linguistic analysis of audio/video-recordings and transcriptions of the CBT and SR sessions and video-assisted individual qualitative interviews with participants. Qualitative evidence indicates SR's potential as an alternative or long-term follow-up or adjunct to CBT in bringing into conscious awareness areas of emotional pain otherwise passively suffered by patients with chronic pain. In addition, quantitative analysis, albeit of limited pilot data, indicated possible improvements in mood/pain for up to 2 days following SR. Both findings lay the basis for future research involving a larger sample size.

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