Chronic pain is a significant health problem worldwide with limited pharmacological treatment options. This study evaluated the relative efficacy of four treatment sessions each of four non-pharmacological treatments: (1) hypnotic cognitive therapy (using hypnosis to alter the meaning of pain); (2) standard cognitive therapy; (3) hypnosis focused on pain reduction, and (4) pain education. One hundred seventy-three individuals with chronic pain were randomly assigned to receive four sessions of one of the four treatments. Primary (pain intensity) and secondary outcome measures were administered by assessors unaware of treatment allocation at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 3-, 6- and 12-month follow-up. Treatment effects were evaluated using ANOVA, a generalized estimating equation approach, or a Fisher Exact Test, depending on the outcome domain examined. All four treatments were associated with medium to large effect size improvements in pain intensity that maintained up to 12 months post-treatment. Pre- to post-treatment improvements were observed across the four treatment conditions on the secondary outcomes of pain interference and depressive symptoms, with some return towards pre-treatment levels at 12-months follow-up. No significant between group differences emerged in omnibus analyses, and few statistically significant between-group differences emerged in the planned pairwise analyses, although the two significant effects that did emerge favored hypnotic cognitive therapy. Future research is needed to determine if the significant differences that emerged are reliable.

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PubMed