Overall, the literature on the effectiveness of psychological treatments in general and those for fibromyalgia in particular has been dominated by research designs that focus on large groups and explore changes on average, so the treatment impact at the individual level remains unclear. In this quasi-experimental, replicated single-case design, we will test the feasibility and effectiveness of a brief acceptance and committed therapy intervention using ecological momentary assessment supported by technology.
The sample comprised 7 patients (3 in the individual condition and 4 in the group condition) who received a brief, 5-week psychological treatment. Patient evolution was assessed one week prior to treatment onset and during the whole study with a smartphone app. Because ecological momentary assessment and the use of an app are not frequent practices in routine care, we also evaluated the feasibility of this assessment methodology (i.e., compliance with the app). Change was investigated with a nonoverlap of all pairs index. Outcomes were pain interference with sleep and social activities, fatigue, sadness, and pain intensity.
Patient change was not uniform across outcomes. Four patients (two in each condition) showed relatively moderate levels of change (approximately 60% nonoverlap in several outcomes). The remaining patients showed more modest improvements which affected a reduced number of outcomes. Based on nonoverlapping indices, there was no clear evidence in favor of any treatment format.
An alternative design to large-scale trials, one that focuses on the individual change, exists and it can be implemented in pain research. The use of technology (e.g., smartphones) simplifies such designs by facilitating ecological momentary assessment. Based on our findings showing that changes were not homogeneous across patients or outcomes, more single-case designs and patient-centered analyses (e.g., responder and moderation analyses) are required.
Copyright © 2020 María Camino Gómez-Pérez et al.