Chronic Pain (CP) is defined as pain that persists or recurs for more than 3 to 6 months and may be conceived as a health condition in its own right. CP is a frequent condition, affecting an estimated 20% of people worldwide and requires special treatment and care. CP can contribute to depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, poor quality of life and increased health care costs. Psychosocial approaches based on a cognitive conceptualization of pain can provide a solid foundation for research and clinical work. The development of a 10 week-session group treatment was based on key principles from the literature on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain (CBT-CP) and Creative Arts Therapy, integrated with advances in research on CP management framework. The aim of this study is to evaluate a CBT-CP arts-based group intervention for patients with non-malignant CP addressing the biopsychosocial factors that influence pain perception. A total of 100 University Pain Management Unit outpatients participated, 50 in the intervention group and 50 in the control group (treatment as usual). In analyses of the pretest-posttest research design intervention including all participants, treatment gains were observed in almost all domains examined: severity of pain measured by the Brief Pain Inventory, conceptualization of mental pain measured by the Orbach and Mikulincer Mental Pain Scale, tolerance for psychological pain measured by the Tolerance for Mental Pain Scale, anxiety and depression levels measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and quality of life measured by the WHO Quality of Life-BREF Questionnaire. The participants’ mean age was 52.3 years and most were female (84%). Findings suggest that postprogram, there was significant reduction in pain intensity (p<0.001), depressive symptoms (p<0.001), confusion about pain (p=0.037), and improvement of emotional distress tolerance (p=0.012) and global health-related quality of life (p<0.001) in the intervention group. Beneficial effects can be expected from the implementation of an integrated CP intervention (including: creative and CBT techniques) reappraising some of the coping responses defined as adaptive within current psychosocial non-malignant CP regimens.

KEYWORDS: Chronic pain; CBT-CP; Creative Arts Therapy; mental pain; quality of life.

Asimina Kalmanti, Chrysanthi Batistaki, Christos Christodoulou, Georgia Gerolouka-Kostopanagiotou, Athanassios Douzenis, Ioannis Michopoulos

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