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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Jul 2023 - 21 Jul 2023

Clinical, Psychology

Human Studies


2023 Jul 11

J Pain


The timing and magnitude of improvements in depression, anxiety, disability, and pain intensity during an internet-delivered program for chronic pain.


Bisby MA, Chandra SS, Scott AJ, Dudeney J, Titov N, Dear BF


Numerous studies have found that pain management programs are an effective treatment option for people with chronic pain. However, little is known about when people experience improvements during these programs, and why they are effective. Using a secondary analysis, the current study examined the timing and magnitude of symptom change during an 8-week internet-delivered psychological pain management program for people with chronic pain. The change in four outcomes were examined: depression (n = 881), anxiety (n = 561), disability (n = 484), and pain intensity (n = 484). The largest improvements in depression, anxiety, and disability were reported during the first half of treatment (i.e., four weeks), whereas the largest reductions in pain intensity were reported during the second half of treatment. Half the participants had experienced a clinically meaningful improvement in depression or anxiety, and a third of participants had reported such an improvement in disability by mid-treatment (i.e., five weeks after baseline). In a subgroup analysis (n = 397), this pattern of change in depression and anxiety symptoms did not differ based on the level of therapist guidance. This study highlights the importance of the first few weeks of psychological pain management programs, and encourages future work to examine how the mechanisms underpinning rapid change may be harnessed to optimize care for people with chronic pain. PERSPECTIVE: This study found that depression, anxiety, and disability improved rapidly during the first half of an 8-week internet-delivered pain management program, and most of the pre-post change had occurred by mid-treatment. This work highlights the therapeutic potential of the first few treatment sessions, and prompts future research into rapid responding.