An online self-help CBT intervention for chronic lower back pain

Clin J Pain. 2012 Jan;28(1):14-22. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31822363db.


Objectives: Research has shown that cognitive and behavioral therapies can effectively improve quality of life in chronic pain patients. Unfortunately, many patients lack access to cognitive and behavioral therapy treatments. We developed a pilot version of an interactive online intervention to teach self-management skills for chronic lower back pain, a leading cause of disability and work absenteeism. The objective of this randomized, controlled trial was to evaluate its efficacy.

Methods: Individuals with chronic lower back pain were recruited over the Internet, screened by phone, and randomly assigned to receive access to the intervention (Wellness Workbook; WW) either immediately (intervention group) or after a 3-week delay (wait-list control). Participants (n=141, 83% female, 23% minority) were asked to complete the WW over 3 weeks. Self-report measures of pain, disability, disabling attitudes and beliefs, self-efficacy for pain control, and mood regulation were completed at baseline, week 3, and week 6.

Results: Controlling for baseline individual differences in the outcome measures, multivariate analysis of covariance revealed that, at week 3, the intervention group scored better than the wait-list control group on all outcomes, including pain severity ratings. At week 6, after both groups had been exposed to the WW, there were no differences between groups.

Discussion: Use of this pilot intervention seems to have had positive effects on a number of pain-related outcomes, including disability. Future research will evaluate the effectiveness of the completed intervention, with particular attention to quality of life and disability.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / psychology*
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Online Systems*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Self Report*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult