HealthDay News — For patients with chronic pain, literacy-adapted group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and group pain education (EDU) improve pain and physical function compared with usual care, according to a study published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Beverly E. Thorn, PhD, from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine the efficacy of literacy-adapted and simplified group CBT vs EDU vs usual care among 290 low-income adults aged 19 to 71 years with mixed chronic pain.

Both interventions were delivered in 10 weekly 90-minute sessions.

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The researchers found that, compared with participants receiving usual care, CBT and EDU participants had larger decreases in pain intensity scores between baseline and post-treatment (estimated differences in change scores: CBT, −0.80; EDU, −0.57).

Treatment gains were not maintained in the CBT group at 6-month follow-up, but they were still observed in the EDU group. Participants in the CBT and EDU interventions had greater post-treatment improvement with regard to physical function than those receiving usual care; this was maintained at 6-month follow-up. There was no difference in changes in depression between either the CBT or EDU group and the usual care group.

“Simplified group CBT and EDU interventions delivered at low-income clinics significantly improved pain and physical function compared with usual care,” the authors write.

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Thorn BE, Eyer JC, Van Dyke BP, et al. Literacy-adapted cognitive behavioral therapy versus education for chronic pain at low-income clinics: a randomized controlled trial [published online February 28, 2018]. Ann Intern Med. doi: 10.7326/M17-0972