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Community-based programme improves depression in chronic pain patients

A community-based pain management programme for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain has improved depression and social integration, according to a study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

The researchers, in collaboration with Warwick University, Royal Holloway and University College London, designed a group pain management programme on 403 adults and compared this intervention with a control group of 300 adults who received usual care and a relaxation CD.

Trial participants all had chronic musculoskeletal pain, which often does not respond well to drugs. The pain management programme that was investigated is a novel, brief, psychologically based group intervention directed at increasing participants’ confidence and their repertoire of skills around managing pain.

The majority of participants in the intervention group reported feelings of depression and social integration had improved at six and 12 months on; and a cost-effectiveness analysis showed that the cost of this intervention (£145 per person) falls within the range defined as acceptable by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Professor Steph Taylor from QMUL’s Blizard Institute said: “The study holds out the tantalising prospect that the new intervention could improve the psychological well-being of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain, but further research is needed before this conclusion can be firmly drawn.”

The researchers also looked at effects on anxiety, pain-related self-efficacy, pain acceptance and pain intensity at 12 months. However there was no reported effect by participants in the intervention group.

Pain-management programmes can be effective at reducing distress and improving self-efficacy and quality of life. However, when based in hospitals they can be expensive and it is hard to apply them to large numbers of people.

Article: Novel Three-Day, Community-Based, Nonpharmacological Group Intervention for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain (COPERS): A Randomised Clinical Trial, Taylor SJC, Carnes D, Homer K, Kahan BC, Hounsome N, Eldridge S, et al., PLoS Medicine, doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002040, published 14 June 2016.