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Is reduction in pain catastrophizing a therapeutic mechanism specific to cognitive-behavioral therapy for chronic pain?



Is reduction in pain catastrophizing a therapeutic mechanism specific to cognitive-behavioral therapy for chronic pain?



Translational Behavioral Medicine 2(1): 22-29



Mechanisms underlying favorable outcomes of psychosocial interventions for chronic pain are unclear. Theory suggests changes in maladaptive cognitions represent therapeutic mechanisms specific to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). We illustrate the importance of examining whether treatments work either uniquely via mechanisms specified by theory or via mechanisms common to different treatments. Secondary data analysis was conducted to examine the effects of reduction in pain catastrophizing on outcomes following CBT and Pain Education. Generally, reductions in pain catastrophizing were significantly related to outcome improvements irrespective of CBT or Pain Education condition. Results underscore the need to assess whether mechanisms presumed to operate specifically in one treatment do indeed predict outcomes and illustrate the importance of broadening the assessment of mechanisms beyond those specified by theory. Theory-specific, competing, and common mechanisms must all be assessed to determine why our treatments work.

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Accession: 036420022

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 24073095

DOI: 10.1007/s13142-011-0086-3


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