In a recent study, published in the February 26, 2010 issue of The Lancet, 701 patients with chronic back pain were treated with either standard treatment alone or standard treatment supplemented with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). The intervention helped participants identify cycles of negative thinking that lead to their inactivity and thus perpetuated their pain. Specifically, CBT played an important role in helping patients to resume activities they had been avoiding based on distorted thoughts and beliefs about the pain they experienced (e.g., “I should avoid all activities that cause me pain.”). At one year follow-up, the participants who received CBT showed greater improvement on disability tests than their non-CBT counterparts.
Because CBT is cost-effective and does not expose patients to additional risks like so many other treatment options, the researchers hope that this study will raise awareness, among health insurance providers and physicians, of the important role CBT may play in clinical practice.
Lamb, S.E., Hansen, Z., Lall, R., Castelnuovo, E., Withers, E.J., Nichols, V., et al. (2010). Group cognitive behavioural treatment for low-back pain in primary care: A randomised controlled trial and cost-effectiveness analysis. The Lancet, 375(9718), 916-923.