A randomized, controlled trial of acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy for chronic pain

Pain. 2011 Sep;152(9):2098-2107. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2011.05.016. Epub 2011 Jun 17.


Individuals reporting chronic, nonmalignant pain for at least 6 months (N=114) were randomly assigned to 8 weekly group sessions of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) after a 4-6 week pretreatment period and were assessed after treatment and at 6-month follow-up. The protocols were designed for use in a primary care rather than specialty pain clinic setting. All participants remained stable on other pain and mood treatments over the course of the intervention. ACT participants improved on pain interference, depression, and pain-related anxiety; there were no significant differences in improvement between the treatment conditions on any outcome variables. Although there were no differences in attrition between the groups, ACT participants who completed treatment reported significantly higher levels of satisfaction than did CBT participants. These findings suggest that ACT is an effective and acceptable adjunct intervention for patients with chronic pain.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Behavior*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult