Web-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Chronic Pain Patients with Aberrant Drug-Related Behavior: Outcomes from a Randomized Controlled Trial.

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There is high unmet need for effective behavioral treatments for chronic pain patients at risk for or with demonstrated histories of opioid misuse. Despite growing evidence supporting technology-based delivery of self-management interventions for chronic pain, very few such programs target co-occurring chronic pain and aberrant drug-related behavior. This randomized controlled trial evaluated the effectiveness of a novel, web-based self-management intervention, grounded in cognitive behavior therapy, for chronic pain patients with aberrant drug-related behavior.


Opioid-treated chronic pain patients at a specialty pain practice who screened positive for aberrant drug-related behavior (N = 110) were randomized to receive treatment as usual plus the web-based program or treatment as usual alone. The primary outcomes of pain severity, pain interference, and aberrant drug-related behavior, and the secondary outcomes of pain catastrophizing and pain-related emergency department visits, were assessed during the 12-week intervention and at one and three months postintervention.


Patients assigned to use the web-based program reported significantly greater reductions in aberrant drug-related behavior, pain catastrophizing, and pain-related emergency department visits-but not pain severity or pain interference-relative to those assigned to treatment as usual. The positive outcomes were observed during the 12-week intervention and for three months postintervention.


A web-based self-management program, when delivered in conjunction with standard specialty pain treatment, was effective in reducing chronic pain patients' aberrant drug-related behavior, pain catastrophizing, and emergency department visits for pain. Technology-based self-management tools may be a promising therapeutic approach for the vulnerable group of chronic pain patients who have problems managing their opioid medication.

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