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Couple Family Psychol



A Novel Couple-Based Intervention for Chronic Pain and Relationship Distress: A Pilot Study.


Tankha H, Caño A, Corley A, Dillaway H, Lumley MA, Clark S
Couple Family Psychol. 2020; 9(1):13-32.
PMID: 34017649.


Chronic pain contributes to psychological and relationship distress in individuals with pain as well as their partners. Prior pain interventions have addressed this important social context by engaging partners in treatment; however, partners have not been considered co-participants who can benefit directly from therapy, but rather incorporated as pain management coaches or guides. This manuscript assesses the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of a novel intervention which targets both partners and focuses on improving well-being in couples in which one or both partners experiences chronic pain and relationship distress. Fifteen couples participated in a 6-session in-person intervention, and completed baseline and post-treatment outcome measures. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to evaluate participants' engagement in and experiences of the intervention, as well as preliminary outcomes. Results suggest that couples were engaged in, and reported satisfaction with, the treatment. Participants who completed the therapy ( = 28; 14 couples) reported reductions in depressive symptoms and improvements in relationship satisfaction and partner responsiveness, and individuals with pain reported reductions in pain interference. In post-treatment interviews, couples reported their preference for couple therapy over individual therapy for pain and relationship distress. Although the conduct of the therapy was feasible for couples who enrolled in the trial, initial recruitment difficulties suggested feasibility challenges. Recommendations are made for researchers who are interested in designing psychological interventions to improve quality of life in the context of chronic illness.