Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Efficacy of CBT vs Education for Chronic Pain

Ann Intern Med; ePub 2018 Feb 27; Thorn, et al

Simplified group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and group pain education (EU) interventions significantly improved pain and physical function compared with usual care in patients treated at low-income clinics, a recent study found. The randomized clinical trial included 290 adults aged 19 to 71 years with mixed chronic pain. CBT and EDU were delivered in 10 weekly, 90-minute group sessions. The primary outcomes was self-reported, postintervention pain intensity; secondary outcomes were physical function and depression. Researchers found:

  • Members of the CBT and EDU groups had larger decreases in pain intensity scores between baseline and posttreatment than those receiving usual care.
  • At 6-month follow-up, treatment gains were not maintained in the CBT group but were still present in the EDU group.
  • Participants in the CBT and EDU interventions had greater posttreatment improved vs usual care in physical function.
  • Changes in depression did not differ between either the CBT or EDU group and the usual care group.


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 ahead of print February 27, 2018]. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M17-0972.

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