A randomised controlled study with the objective to explore the effects of a group learning programme based on a phenomenological epistemology and personal construct theory. Main outcome measures were: experienced pain, pain coping strategies, absenteeism, disability pension and health care consumption. One hundred and twenty-one patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain and high absenteeism were included in this study. The intervention group (n=77) consisted of nine smaller groups with 6-10 persons in each and were counselled by health personnel with special training. The control group consisted of 44 persons. The learning programme emphasised awareness, possible relations between bodily symptoms, emotions, mind and life situation, and change of focus from pain and disability to resources and potentials. One year after the end of the learning programme (T3), patients in the intervention group reported significant pain reduction, increased pain-coping abilities and a higher reduction of health care consumption than the control group (P<0.05). Absenteeism was not significantly reduced compared to the control group, but there were fewer persons receiving disability pension in the intervention group at T3 (38 versus 59%) (P<0.05). This group-learning programme should be considered an important adjunct to the therapy of patients with chronic muscular pain.