Background and purpose – Pain catastrophizing contributes to acute and long-term pain after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) but currently there are only limited treatment options. This study investigates the effectiveness of patient education in pain coping among patients with moderate to high pain catastrophizing score before TKA. Secondary outcomes were physical function, quality of life, self-efficacy, and pain catastrophizing.Patients and methods – The study was a parallel-group randomized controlled trial including patients with moderate to high levels of pain catastrophizing. 60 patients were recruited from December 2015 to June 2018. The mean age of the patients was 66 (47-82) years and 40 were women. The patients were randomized to either cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) based pain education or usual care. The primary outcome measure was pain under activity measured with the Visual Analog Scale (VAS). All outcomes were measured preoperatively, at 3 months, and at 1 year after surgery.Results – We found no difference in the primary outcome measure, VAS during activity, between the 2 groups but both groups had large reductions over time. The CBT-based pain education group reduced their VAS score by 37 mm (95% CI 27-46) and the control group by 40 mm (CI 31-49). We found no statistically significantly differences between the 2 groups in any of the secondary outcomes.Interpretation – Future research is warranted to identify predictors of persistent pain and interventions for the approximately 20% of patients with persisting pain after a TKA.