Pain coping skills training for patients with elevated pain catastrophizing who are scheduled for knee arthroplasty: a quasi-experimental study

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2011 Jun;92(6):859-65. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2011.01.003. Epub 2011 Apr 29.


Objectives: To (1) describe a behavioral intervention designed for patients with elevated pain catastrophizing who are scheduled for knee arthroplasty, and (2) use a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the potential efficacy of the intervention on pain severity, catastrophizing cognitions, and disability.

Design: Quasi-experimental nonequivalent control group design with a 2-month follow-up.

Setting: Two university-based orthopedic surgery departments.

Participants: Adults (N=63) scheduled for knee replacement surgery who reported elevated levels of pain catastrophizing. Patients were recruited from 2 clinics and were assessed prior to surgery and 2 months after surgery.

Interventions: A group of 18 patients received a psychologist-directed pain coping skills training intervention comprising 8 sessions. The other group, a historical cohort of 45 patients, received usual care.

Main outcome measures: Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index Pain and Disability scores, as well as scores on the Pain Catastrophizing Scale.

Results: Two months after surgery, the patients who received pain coping skills training reported significantly greater reductions in pain severity and catastrophizing, and greater improvements in function as compared to the usual care cohort.

Conclusions: Pain catastrophizing is known to increase risk of poor outcome after knee arthroplasty. The findings provide preliminary evidence that the treatment may be highly efficacious for reducing pain, catastrophizing, and disability, in patients reporting elevated catastrophizing prior to knee arthroplasty. A randomized controlled trial is warranted to confirm these effects.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / psychology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / surgery
  • Pain / psychology*