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Papers of the Week

Papers: 1 Jun 2024 - 7 Jun 2024

2024 May 29

J Pain


Treatment expectation: you get what you expect – and depression plays a role.


Levenig CG, Hasenbring MI, Günnewig L, Titze C, Elsenbruch S, Schulte TL


Positive treatment expectations demonstrably shape treatment outcomes regarding pain and disability in patients with chronic low back pain (LBP). However, knowledge about positive and negative treatment expectations as putative predictors of interindividual variability in treatment outcomes is sparse, and the role of other psychological variables of interest, especially of depression as a known predictor of long-term disability, is lacking. We present results of the first prospective study considering expectations in concert with depression in a sample of 200 patients with chronic LBP undergoing an inpatient interdisciplinary multimodal pain therapy (IMPT). We analyzed characteristics of pain and disability, treatment expectation, and depression assessed at the beginning (T0), at the end of (T1) and at 3-month-follow-up (T2) of IMPT. Treatment expectations did emerge as significant predictor of changes in pain intensity and disability, respectively, showing that positive expectations were associated with better treatment outcomes. Mediation analyses revealed a partially mediating effect of treatment expectations on the relation between depression and pain outcomes. PERSPECTIVE: These results expand knowledge regarding the role of treatment expectations in individual treatment outcome trajectories in chronic pain patients, paving the way for much needed efforts towards optimizing patient expectations and personalized approaches in clinical settings.